Shell USA Completes $169 Million Volta Acquisition

Oil giant claims San Francisco tech company's ‘1st-mover advantage’ in U.S. EV charging
Volta EV charging stalls at Whole Foods
Photography: Volta Inc./Shell USA

Shell USA Inc. said Volta Inc.’s network of 3,000 electric-vehicle-charging stalls in 31 states, its pipeline of 3,400 new locations, its advertising revenue and its first-mover advantage impressed the oil giant and led to the $169 million acquisition of the San Francisco-based tech company that was completed this morning.

“We want to make charging as convenient as possible for our customers,” said István Kapitány, executive vice president of Shell Mobility in announcing the transaction’s closing. The acquisition received approval from regulators and the company’s shareholders.

“As demand for EV charging continues to grow, destination sites will play a key role in meeting people where they spend a great deal of time: the store, the gym and everywhere in between,” he said. “Beyond providing a charging service, Volta specializes in generating advertising revenues from screens embedded into the charge point, adding a source of non-fuel revenue from sites both in the U.S. and globally,” Kapitány said.

The companies completed the cash transaction today as expected. Shell acquired all outstanding Class A shares of Volta common stock for 86 cents per share. Shell paid the EV-charging-and-media-display company’s $11 million in debt and provided $20 million in loans to keep Volta going until the transaction closed.

With the completion of the acquisition, Volta and its 200 employees become part of Shell USA. Volta’s employees bring on-the-ground experience in EV charging, which the branded energy marketer needs to grow in this space.

Shell is gaining Volta’s prime EV-charging spots and its site contracts in high-traffic areas. Besides Volta’s 3,000 existing charging stalls, it has 3,400 in development, according to the company. Many of Volta’s EV charging stalls are located outside major retailers, such as grocery stores, drug stores and shopping malls, but the company also has worked with local municipalities to locate appropriate sites in disadvantaged areas and has developed a new predictive analytics tool involving location data. The tech company, which has evolved since its launch in 2010, also has forged government relationships important in the EV charging space.

Shell pointed out advertising revenue from the media displays on Volta’s charging stalls have generated most of the revenue to date, but it sees promise in EV charging revenue. “There are plans to increase the number of fast-charging DC outlets with a paid-charging model,” Shell USA said.

Volta’s media revenue accounted for $12.3 million of $14.4 million in total revenue Volta achieved in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, 2022, the most recent period for which result are available. Revenue from charging network operations generated $38,000 in third-quarter 2022, and revenue from network development generated $1.9 million in the third quarter, up from $1.1 million in the same quarter of 2021, Volta said.

The acquisition brings Shell USA into the EV-charging sector in a potentially big way. Its global parent Shell Plc is aiming to operate over 500,000 charge points by 2025 and 2.5 million by 2030. It currently has 140,000 public and private charge points globally, but most are overseas.

The Volta acquisition is expected to assist in Shell Plc’s goal of cutting in half absolute emissions from its own operations by 2030 compared with 2016 levels. The company achieved a 30% reduction in emissions by the end of 2022, according to a company statement. The company’s energy transition strategy received the support of 89% of shareholders who voted in 2021 and 80% in 2022, the company said.

 Volta common stock will be delisted the New York Stock Exchange and de-registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Volta said.

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