Johnson Matthey to close battery division in blow to 430 staff

Chemicals and engineering company Johnson Matthey has revealed plans to close its battery materials arm after failing to secure a sale in a move that is set to affect around 430 staff.

The firm put the division up for sale in November as it said it was unable to compete with alternative technologies and larger, lower cost manufacturers.

But it said it has been unable to strike a deal, despite talks with a number of possible buyers.

Johnson Matthey is now consulting with the 430 workers at the division over a proposal to shut the business and sell off its assets.

The firm said it is in active talks over asset sales and hopes to be able to transfer some jobs as part of any potential deals, while it will also look to redeploy remaining workers internally to “minimise” redundancies.

The majority of the division’s staff are based in the UK, across offices in Billingham in the North East, Royston near Cambridge and a technology centre outside Oxford.

There are also some overseas staff in Poland, Finland and Canada.

The group said: “We have held discussions with a number of parties about a sale of the entire business.

“These discussions have not resulted in an agreement to sell the entire business as a going concern.

“Consequently, we are announcing today that we are commencing consultation with our employees about our proposed closure of the Battery Materials business, and we are pursuing the sale of its individual assets.”

Johnson Matthey said it expects to book around £150 million of costs in its annual results for impairment charges from the sale, including redundancy costs.

It had already reported £314 million in impairment charges in its half-year results relating to the value of the division.