Beware of Fusion Fizzle

by Bill White

Op-Ed Finance

Yesterday (6 March 2020), I spoke to Bart Markus, chairman of First Light Fusion Ltd, an Oxford-based company employing a team of engineers and physicists, as well as collaborating closely with a number of academic organisations, including the University of Oxford, Warwick University, UCL and Imperial College, London.

According to Markus, and filings with Companies House, the First Light Fusion has raised just over £25 million in capital (though only 25 per cent of that was paid in cash) and he said that the company will soon close out another round of fundingsaid to be £20 million. Markus was at pains to stress that "post-money that would be a £100 million" valuation. In fact, he went so far as to say that [I] "didn't understand him", not that he couldn't explain what he was trying to say or that what he was saying made no sense whatsoever.

Markus added that this method of valuation was "a game" that he assured me was quite normal and I suspect that no truer words have ever been spoken.

The company also hopes to follow that £20 million round of funding with an additional £400 million that he expected to collect from larger investors, which Markus explained would be "easy to raise". After achieving all that capitalisation, Markus told me that the company could have a valuation of "about a billion pounds". Accounts filed with Companies House to date suggest otherwise.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there is any doubt that some investors will want to encourage the long-term investment in fusion energy. The initial shareholders of First Light Fusion, for example, who received the majority of their shares in exchange for something other than money.

And as the video below demonstrates, with the right amount of hype and seemingly sincere enthusiasm, anything is possible.

Opinion: Hard pass.


Bill White is CEO of WireNews.