With little money in the bank and time running out, Intelligent Energy's $43 million in convertible notes from its biggest investor, Talal Shakerchi's fund, Meditor, come with an interest rate of 13 percent per year, payable quarterly, and are due three years from the date of issue.
Shakerchi is known as "raidalot" in the high-stakes poker world.
The company uses proton exchange membrane technology and raised $94.1 million when it went public in 2014. It was valued at $811 million at the time, making it the most highly valued publicly held fuel cell company in the world. The firm has raised more than $150 million from investors, including Meditor European Master Fund and the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC.
Intelligent Energy had pretax losses of $77.3 million in the first three quarters of 2015 on revenues of $111.3 million.
There have been some less-than-credible reports that Intelligent Energy is working with Apple on consumer devices, as well as the obligatory memorandum of understanding announcing high volumes from providing backup power for Indian cell towers. The company claims to have "over 16 MWh of clean electricity generated to date."
In April, Intelligent Energy Holdings had to "implement a material restructuring of its business" replete with layoffs, office closures and focusing the business on "sub-1 W to 20 kW air-cooled fuel cell technologies, which are targeted towards small to medium-sized, highly distributed applications to power a range of off-grid devices."
The company has pulled back from its automotive fuel-cell efforts. Tesla's Elon Musk offered his opinion of fuel-cell electric vehicles in Autocar: “They’re mind-bogglingly stupid. You can’t even have a sensible debate," said Musk, adding, “Consider the whole fuel-cell system against a Model S. It’s far worse in volume and mass terms, and far, far worse in cost. And I haven’t even talked about hydrogen being so hard to handle.”
According to a release, "The Board believes that the funding proposal from Meditor is the only credible option which provides the quantum of funding required (in the timescales that were available) to ensure that the Company could continue as a going concern. Without the Fundraising it is likely that the Company would no longer have been a going concern and that the Board therefore would have had little option other than to place the Company into administration."
Other fuel-cell firms such as Ballard Power (Ballard just sold off its methanol telecom backup power business for less than $6 million), Fuel Cell Energy, Hydrogenics, and Plug Power perpetually lose money. Privately held Bloom Energy, which has threatened profitability and an IPO for some time, has raised more than $1 billion in venture capital over the course of a decade. Bloom builds fuel cells of the solid-oxide variety, with natural gas as the fuel, and boasts an all-star list of customers, including Adobe, FedEx, Staples, Google, Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart.