Pod Point hires City grandee Davis to add spark to London float | Business News

Gareth Davis, the former Imperial Tobacco chief, is joining Pod Point, the electric car charging infrastructure network that is motoring towards a London flotation.

Sky News has learnt that Mr Davis, a City grandee who has led a string of major public companies, has agreed to become Pod Point’s non-executive chairman.

An announcement could be made in the coming weeks.

Gareth Davis, Chief Executive of Imperial Tobacco departs from Edinburgh High Court, Edinburgh, where he told the court that the firm believed there is no such thing as a safe cigarette 11/11/2003
Gareth Davis is a former boss of Imperial Tobacco

Mr Davis’s arrival will add fuel to Pod Point’s hopes of becoming a public company this year, following the appointment of Bank of America and Barclays to oversee its plans for an initial public offering (IPO).

Pod Point, which is majority-owned by EDF, the French state-backed energy giant, wants to capitalise on rising demand for electric vehicle charging points.

On Monday, the energy regulator, Ofgem, gave the EV industry a fresh boost by pledging £300m investment towards ultrafast charging points.

The funds will substantially increase the availability of such infrastructure across Britain, but will make little dent in the number of charging points eventually required as petrol and diesel cars are phased out.

A London float of Pod Point is not inevitable, given likely interest in a merger from one of the many special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) which have listed in the US.

EDF bought a controlling stake in Pod Point little more than a year ago, with its other shareholders including Legal & General.

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Electric infrastructure money ‘ultimately does come from bills’

Any transaction will crystallise a big paper fortune for Erik Fairbairn, the company’s founder.

EV charging infrastructure providers’ growth plans have been fuelled by the UK’s 2030 target for banning the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, and 2035 for phasing out hybrids.

To date this year, 7% of vehicles sold have been hybrid, underlining the scale of the growth opportunity for the sector.

EDF is expected to retain a large stake in Pod Point after an IPO as it seeks to meet its target of becoming the leading energy company for electric mobility in the UK, France, Belgium and Italy.

Pod Point says it has powered more than 459m miles of electric driving, and has a public network of nearly 4,000 charging bays.

According to parliamentary research, nearly 29,000 charging points will be required across Britain by 2030 to meet demand, with the number of public chargers for top-up charging needing a tenfold increase by the end of the decade from 2016 levels.

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‘Massive take-up of electrified vehicles’

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has reported that 2020 had been the best ever year for electric cars in the UK, with the market share of battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles reaching 10.7%.

Pod Point, which declined to comment, was founded in 2009 by Mr Fairbairn and competes with rivals such as Chargemaster, which is now a subsidiary of BP.

Mr Fairbairn’s company now has partnerships with Tesco and Lidl, with charging points installed at their supermarket car parks, and counts British Land, Gatwick Airport and Pepsico among its other corporate partners.

Mr Davis, who chairs the advertising agency M&C Saatchi and has led companies including the packaging group DS Smith, was unavailable for comment.

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