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April 21, 2010

Amyris Files For IPO

Industrial Biotechnology: Firm is devising biomass-based routes to chemicals, fuels

Alexander H. Tullo

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Amyris Biotechnologies, an Emeryville, Calif.-based firm that is devising biomass-based routes to chemicals and fuels, has filed a prospectus with the Securities & Exchange Commission for a $100 million public offering of stock.

The company is developing genetically modified yeast that converts feedstocks such as sugar into useful molecules. The company says its initial focus is on farnesene, a sesquiterpene that exists as a variety of isomers and stereoisomers. It intends to convert farnesene into diesel fuel and materials for detergents, cosmetics, perfumes, and lubricants.

Amyris already operates a pilot plant in Emeryville and a larger demonstration plant in Campinas, Brazil. Earlier this month, it established a joint venture with Brazil's Grupo São Martinho to establish a commercial plant at a sugar mill in Pradópolis, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. The plant will cost up to $100 million and is expected to open in 2012. It may eventually consume as much as 2 million metric tons of sugar annually, the firm says.

Amyris was established in 2003. Its initial mission was to collaborate with researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, on a biotech route to artemisinic acid, a precursor for the antimalaria compound artemisinin. Amyris is now licensing the technology, royalty-free, to Sanofi-Aventis.

Last year, the firm posted $64.6 million in sales, though most of that came from trading ethanol through its Amyris Fuels subsidiary. It had a net loss of $64.5 million.

Venture capitalists, including Khosla Ventures, have been bullish on Amyris, injecting $244 million in funding since its inception. Last month, the company received a $47.8 million investment from Singapore government-owned Temasek Holdings.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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