By Gilles Guillaume
PARIS, Sept 14 (Reuters) - French battery startup Verkor said on Thursday it has secured more than 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion) in funding to build its gigafactory in Dunkirk, thanks mainly to a capital increase from investors including infrastructure funds and insurers.
The funding consists of 850 million euros in capital - the largest ever fundraise for a French tech start-up, according to a French government source - 600 million euros in loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and 650 million euros in state subsidies that await European Commission approval.
A co-founder of the Grenoble-based start-up told Reuters last week that Verkor was near to completing the first tranche of financing for the Dunkirk gigafactory, one of the four sites in "battery valley" in northern France.
The Verkor gigafactory should create 1,200 direct jobs and 3,000 indirect jobs, and start production in mid-2025. It will have an initial production capacity of 16 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, including 12 for RenaultRENA.PA.
"This international funding strengthens our long-term prospects and ... we are now on track to become one of Europe's leading battery manufacturers," Verkor Managing Director Benoit Lemaignan said in a statement.
"This now puts us fully into action and allows us to realize the plan when we created the company three years ago,” Lemaignan told Reuters.
After the capital increase, Australian infrastructure fund Macquarie and French counterpart Meridiam will become Verkor's two main shareholders.
The funding increase also includes new investments from Fonds Strategique de Participations (FSP), an alliance of seven French insurance companies which holds stakes in innovative industrial players, and maritime transport group CMA CGM alongside existing shareholders such as Renault and Bpifrance.
Renault, an early supporter of Verkor, will see its stake diluted in this new phase to 10% from 24%. The French carmaker should retain a seat on the board of directors, said a source close to Renault.
($1 = 0.9310 euros)
(Writing By Nick Carey; reporting by Gilles Guillaume Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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