VANCOUVER--Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ: BLDP; TSX: BLD) announced that Nisshinbo Holdings Inc., an "Environmental and Energy Company" Group in Japan, has agreed to make a $5 million strategic equity investment in Ballard. The investment will be made through a subscription and purchase of 3,322,479 common shares issued from treasury at a price per share of US$1.5049 (based on a 10-day volume weighted average price calculation). The Company intends to use the proceeds from the financing for general corporate purposes, including potentially funding of future acquisitions or investments in complementary businesses, products or technologies. The deal is expected to close in early November 2015.
Nisshinbo is an "Environmental and Energy Company" Group providing low-carbon, optimized products across a range of business lines, including chemicals, precision instruments, electronics, automotive brakes, textiles and paper. Nisshinbo has been a long-time leading global supplier of carbon plates, used in the construction of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs), to the fuel cell industry.
Randy MacEwen, Ballard President and CEO said, "This transaction further deepens our strong relationship with Nisshinbo, which has developed over the past 20 years of working together in the areas of carbon plates and catalyst technologies. We have benefited greatly from Nisshinbo's materials understanding as well as its production capabilities. We are pleased that moving forward Nisshinbo's interests will be closely aligned with the growth in Ballard shareholder value."
Mr. Masaya Kawata, Nisshinbo Holdings President, Representative Director added, "Nisshinbo views hydrogen fuel cells as a strategic growth area, including anticipated increases in market demand in Japan. This deepening of our partnership with Ballard will be key to Nisshinbo's success as a supplier to the fuel cell industry and as a facilitator of market traction in a range of high-potential application areas."
Nisshinbo has supplied Ballard with compression molded bipolar flow field carbon plates for 20 years, for use in the manufacture of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells used in various markets applications.
In a PEM fuel cell, the MEA is formed by placing a catalyst coated membrane between two flow field plates. When hydrogen gas flows across one side of the MEA and oxygen moves across the other side an electrochemical (non-combustion) reaction occurs, splitting hydrogen into protons and electrons. The electrons are captured as electricity. Combining fuel cells together to form multi-layer stacks increases the amount of electricity that can be produced.
In May 2015, Ballard announced that it had entered into the next phase of a Technology Solutions project with Nisshinbo focused on a breakthrough non-precious metal catalyst technology intended to significantly reduce the manufacturing cost of certain PEM fuel cells.