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DSM invests $25 million in Amyris

Funds will be used to develop new routes to vitamins, pay down debt

by Melody M. Bomgardner
May 10, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 20

DSM will invest $25 million in the biobased chemicals firm Amyris and may follow with an additional $25 million in funding. DSM says Amyris’s fermentation technology is a good fit for its health, nutrition, and materials businesses, where consumers want products made from sustainable sources.

In the near-term, the two firms will work on health-related products, particularly vitamins and nutritional ingredients. They have an exclusive agreement to develop a low-cost route to vitamin A, which is normally made via chemical synthesis. Amyris and its partner Nenter separately have had success commercializing a process to make vitamin E from Amyris’s key intermediate, farnesene.

“Working closely together with Amyris and leveraging DSM’s route-to-market will accelerate our innovation toward cost-effective, fermentation-based processes for both existing and new products,” says Chris Goppelsroeder, president of DSM Nutritional Products.

If DSM does invest the full $50 million it will own almost one quarter of Amyris and obtain two seats on its board. Other, unnamed investors have committed an additional $45 million. Amyris will use most of the funds to pay down $75 million in debt. At the end of 2016, it reported long-term debt of more than $128 million and revenues of $67 million.

Earlier this month, Amyris reported that sales are up due to growing demand for farnesene used in winter tires. Companies including Sumitomo Rubber Industries are making tires with a farnesene-based rubber said to provide good road grip even in very cold weather. Amyris will report its first-quarter financial results next week.

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