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Business Roundup

by Michael McCoy
October 3, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 40

LyondellBasell’s effort to sell its Berre, France, refinery, under way since May, has yielded no bids from interested buyers, leading the company to consider closing the unprofitable operation. The petrochemical plants on the site will remain open, the firm adds.

PPG Industries plans to increase its capacity for precipitated silica by more than 18,000 tons per year to meet growing customer demand. The new capacity will come on-line beginning later this year and in 2012 in Lake Charles, La., and Delfzijl, the Netherlands.

Siluria, a San Francisco-based start-up developing catalysts to convert methane into ethylene, has attracted $20 million in a round of venture capital funding led by Wellcome Trust. Siluria’s technology is a potential alternative to the steam cracking of naphtha and ethane.

Zeachem has been awarded $12 million from USDA as part of a $40 million effort to commercialize biofuels in the Pacific Northwest. ZeaChem is part of a consortium led by the University of Washington; the firm will lead biofuel research and demonstration production at its plant in Boardman, Ore.

Colombiana de Biocombustibles Celulósicos has chosen Chemtex to supply a license and engineer an 85,000-metric-ton-per-year ethanol plant in Chitaraque, Colombia, based on sugarcane bagasse. The project will use Chemtex’ Proesa lignocellulosic technology.

Lanxess will spend $16 million to convert half of its ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) plant in Geleen, the Netherlands, to its Keltan ACE technology. The technology reduces energy use in production and avoids catalyst extraction.

Monsanto has acquired Beeologics, a developer of biological pest control products based in the U.S. and Israel. Monsanto says it will continue Beeologics’ work to promote bee health.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries will spend $150 million to buy Kowa’s 50% stake in the two firms’ Japanese joint venture. Created in 2008, the venture had 2010 sales of about $200 million and is one of the top five generic drug suppliers in Japan, according to Teva.

RXi Pharmaceuticals, a Worcester, Mass.-based RNAi therapy firm, plans to turn its cancer research program into a separate, publicly traded company called Galena Biopharma. Galena’s lead product will be NeuVax, a cancer immunotherapy that is expected to enter Phase III trials next year.



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