A deal that would have put a highly touted Richmond startup under Chinese ownership has fallen through.
Evatran’s agreement to be sold to Chinese auto parts manufacturer Zhejiang VIE Science & Technology Co. is off the table, according to a regulatory filing in China last month.
Headquartered in the HandCraft building in Scott’s Addition, Evatran makes wireless chargers for electric cars like the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf. The company was founded in 2009 by daughter-and-father duo Rebecca and Thomas Hough and has raised more than $7 million in capital since then, including $3.2 million from VIE.
Bob Mooney, chairman of Evatran’s board of directors, confirmed the deal was scrapped.
“It’s off the table … primarily due to the regulatory environment the government has concerning approval of the acquisition,” Mooney said. “That’s all we know and all I can say right now.”
The deal, which initially was agreed to in November 2017 and set to close on Jan. 18, was subject to approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.
The Chinese regulatory filing, first reported by Reuters, says both Evatran and VIE failed to agree on the valuation of Evatran’s assets and never signed a formal acquisition agreement.
VIE, which is publicly traded in China, was set to acquire all of the startup’s assets, trademarks and patents. It owns a 16 percent stake in Evatran from earlier investments and was looking to buy the remaining 84 percent of the company for $10.5 million. The earlier deal documents valued Evatran at $12.5 million.
It’s unclear how the unraveling of the deal will affect operations at Evatran going forward.
Mooney, who is also managing director at NRV, a local venture capital firm that owns 16 percent of Evatran, said the company is in the process of “rethinking what we want to do and how we want to leverage our assets.”
He added that he expects an announcement in coming weeks.
Evatran CEO Rebecca Hough did not respond to requests for comment by press time.