Tag Archives: Roquette

Solazyme files for IPO

As we mentioned in an earlier post, Solazyme recently filed for an initial public offering (IPO) targeting $100 million. This wasn’t a surprise: Just as we had seen Amyris form multiple strong partnerships in the months leading up to its IPO (see the July 6, 2010 LRBJ*), Solazyme’s been revving up its own stable of new partnerships. It’s been forging partnerships in fuels and chemicals more intensely in recent months than it has throughout its lifetime. Since September, the company has inked deals with Bunge, Unilever, and Roquette (see the September 14, 2010 LRBJ* and the November 9, 2010 LRBJ*) on top of existing relationships with companies like Chevron, Honeywell, Abengoa, and Virgin (see the August 17, 2010 LRBJ*), and a joint development agreement with Dow announced last week.

Some highlights from the company’s S-1 include the company’s claims that it has already achieved “attractive margins when utilizing partner and contract manufacturing for the nutrition and skin and personal care markets,” and that it believes it can undercut fuels “when we commence production in larger-scale, built-for-purpose commercial manufacturing facilities utilizing sugarcane feedstock,” citing oils at a cost below $1,000 per metric ton, $3.44 per gallon, or $0.91 per liter.

Solazyme also notes that its Roquette JV will fund an approximately 50,000 metric-ton-per-year facility for nutrition products, which would be the first serious challenge to DSM-owned Martek (see the January 13, 2011 LRMCJ*). The company also mentioned a deal with Colombia’s national oil company (NOC), Ecopetrol, and a Brazilian letter of intent to form a JV that would add capacity of 400,000 metric tons of oil per year – nearly a thousandfold increase over the 455 metric tons the company produced in 2010.

But for all its strengths, Solazyme still lost $16 million last year on $39 million in revenue. By comparison, Amyris brought in $65 million in 2009, the year before its IPO.

While there are always reasons to be cautious when a loss-making company files for an IPO, one of the biggest challenges Solazyme will face is the public market’s mistaken association of its technology with older technologies like corn ethanol or dodgy algae developers. Solazyme is indeed an algae company. But it is wholly different from certain competitors, whose reliance on hype rather than commercially viable technologies poison the pond (pun intended) for legitimate players like Solazyme, Phycal, and Algenol (see the November 13, 2010 LRBJ*, the August 17, 2010 LRBJ*, and the March 10, 2009 LRBJ*). Gevo and Amyris represent better comparisons for Solazyme, and both had relatively successful IPOs (see the October 12, 2010 LRBJ* and the February 10, 2011 LRMCJ*). 

* Client registration required.

Tate & Lyle and Roquette take synthetic biology further into food, personal care, and agriculture

Not one, not two, but three synthetic biology food-related announcements recently hit the wires in short order. First there was Abunda Nutrition’s debut, and the company’s plan to use synthetic biology to produce ingredients like vanillin and nutritional fats and oils (see the November 2, 2010 LRTJ*) of a contract manufacturing agreement between Tate & Lyle and Amyris to produce farnesene, a set of compounds that includes, among other things, the scent of apples. And topping it off was the report of a joint venture between Roquette and Solazyme to make “oil-, protein-, and fiber-based products aimed at delivering improved performance with a superior health profile compared to ingredients in the market today.” According to the announcement, Roquette will fund and build a jointly owned, commercial-scale manufacturing plant at one of its corn wet mills. The plant’s annual production capacity will be on the order of tens of thousands of tons.

We’ve discussed the entrance of synthetic biology into food before, and these announcements naturally bolster that trend (see the June 29, 2010 LRBJ*). Likewise, we have mentioned the convergence of agriculture, energy, and chemicals in previous posts (see the September 15, 2009 LRBJ*). Adding public announcements to discussions we’ve had with companies in the space, we see an increasing flight in industrial biotech from fuels to other products. It remains to be seen whether those “other products” will be synthetic biology technologies such as these, or algae companies looking to secure revenues while they are at small scale. Either way, synthetic biology is no longer an activity that companies in food, personal care, or agriculture can watch from the sidelines. Like their peers in energy and chemicals already have done, clients in these industries should examine the likes of Amyris, Solazyme, LS9, and Blue Marble as strategic partners for future products.

* Client registration required.