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Renewables: Gevo Files IPO To Fund Biofuels, Chemicals Development

by Marc S. Reisch
August 23, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 34

Biofuels and chemicals maker Gevo has filed preliminary documents with the Securities & Exchange Commission for an initial public offering (IPO) of shares worth up to $150 million.

The money Gevo raises would help finance a network of fermentation-based biorefineries to produce isobutyl alcohol-based fuels and feedstocks for plastics, fibers, rubber, and other polymers.

Since its inception in 2005, however, the firm has accumulated a deficit of $50.3 million. Revenues last year amounted to $660,000, none of it from the sale of isobutyl alcohol—most came from government grants and cooperative agreements.

Nonetheless, Gevo has a blue chip slate of investors including Burrill & Co., Khosla Ventures, and the Virgin Green Fund. French oil and gas firm Total invested in the firm in April 2009. In May, German synthetic rubber producer Lanxess invested $10 million in Gevo and inked an agreement to jointly develop a renewable route for isobutene to make butyl rubber, which is used to manufacture tires.

According to Samhitha Udupa, an analyst for Lux Research, it’s “IPO or bust now” for many clean technology firms. The market for IPOs has improved recently because other capital-raising options are less available.

Algae-to-fuels maker PetroAlgae filed an IPO for up to $200 million earlier this month, and biomass-to-fuels developer Codexis recently raised $78 million in an IPO.

Gevo has a good story too, Udupa adds, especially because biochemicals are “in a sweet spot right now,” where buyers are willing to pay more than for traditional petrochemicals if they can get added performance benefits.


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