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Billionaire plots to double workforce at Oxfordshire battery maker

Australian billionaire plots to double workforce at Oxfordshire battery maker

An Oxfordshire engineering company backed by Australia’s richest man is plotting a hiring spree that will double its workforce in two years.

Williams Advanced Engineering, previously part of the Williams Formula One racing group, has 380 employees.

But it plans to hire around 150 more this year and have around 700 staff members by mid-2024 to get ‘the best brains in the business’. It will also open a facility in Kidlington in Oxfordshire later this year.

Full charge: Australian mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest (pictured) snapped up Williams Advanced Engineering in January for £164m

The group makes world-leading batteries and is developing a battery-powered freight train for mining trucks. 

Williams Advanced Engineering was snapped up in January for £164million by Fortescue Future Industries, a green technology group run by mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest who has a £13billion fortune. 

Williams Advanced Engineering has already worked with companies outside of racing, including with consumer goods group Unilever to strip energy usage out of its soap-making process. 

Fortescue Future Industries is part of Fortescue Metals, an Australian mining company which Forrest founded in 2003.

Forrest said he had ‘scoured the world’ for leading battery technology before buying Williams Advanced Engineering.

A spokesman said: ‘The plan is to have 500 employees by the end of the year which is good news for UK plc and supports the reduction of brain drain from the country.’