Aquion files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

After posting spectacular losses against tiny revenues and finding itself unable to raise new capital, Aquion Energy bowed to the inevitable yesterday, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware. The company says it is in ongoing discussions with several buyers and believes it can oversee a robust and expedited sale.

What a difference two months can make.

After winning the coveted North American Company of the Year Award by the Cleantech Group in January, Aquion Energy went before a bankruptcy judge in Delaware yesterday to file for Chapter 11.

Founded in 2008 by Jay Whitacre, the company had planned to sell its saltwater batteries in the microgrid, commercial-and-industrial, and grid storage markets. Unfortunately, the company didn’t have its first commercially launchable product until 2014. By then, the energy-storage market had become so competitive it was hard for Aquion to gain enough marketshare to keep its head above water.

Over the following two years, the company posted approximately $20 million in revenues, which were offset by $69.4 million in losses, according to the court filing. Aquion hired Citi Global Markets in October to raise investment capital to no avail, and a subsequent management-led attempt to raise money as recently as November also failed, leading to yesterday’s filing.

Aquion has only retained 19 full-time and 12 part-time employees to help the company through the Chapter 11 process, a headcount reduction of 85%. It has also stopped producing and marketing its products.

In the court filings, the company claims to have ongoing and active discussions with several buyers and says it plans to reach out to other interested parties who told Aquion they had no interest in buying the company’s assets outside of bankruptcy.

Aquion told the court it expects a  “robust, yet expedited, sales process” and believes it has enough cash on hand to fund such a sale.