M&A moves

Houston private equity firm acquires German magnetic materials producer

In M&A news, a decarbonization-focused firm has acquired only producer in the Western Hemisphere of electric-vehicle-grade permanent magnets. Photo via arapartners.com

Houston-based private equity firm Ara Partners has purchased Germany’s Vacuumschmelze (VAC), a producer of magnetic materials for products such as electric vehicles, from funds overseen by asset manager Apollo. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

VAC is the only producer in the Western Hemisphere of electric-vehicle-grade permanent magnets. It also makes magnetic materials for the industrial, aerospace, medical, and renewable energy sectors.

Earlier this year, VAC announced a deal with automotive giant General Motors to build a North American factory for the production of magnets for the electric motors of GM-made EVs. The factory, set to open in 2025, will initially product enough magnets to supply 1 million EVs each year. The magnets will be made of alloys of rare-earth elements.

GM forecasts it will manufacture 1 million EVs per year in North America by 2025.

“We believe the demand for VAC’s differentiated, customized products will continue to grow rapidly as companies around the world decarbonize their industrial processes and the electrification of mobility advances, and we look forward to leveraging our expertise to further enable VAC’s continued success,” Tuan Tran, a partner at Ara Partners, says in a news release.

Ara Partners specializes in investments in the decarbonization sector.

Founded in 1923, VAC was owned by technology conglomerate Siemens for more than 65 years. Ohio’s OM Group acquired VAC in 2011. Four years later, Apollo purchased OM Group for more than $1 billion, putting VAC in the hands of the asset manager.

As of June 30, Ara Partners had about $4.4 billion in assets under management, while Apollo had $617 billion in assets under management.

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A View From HETI

LiNova will use the funds to advance its polymer cathode battery technology. Photo via Getty Images

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

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