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Updated: From where Codexis stands, the market for initial public offerings is looking up. The 7-year-old startup — which develops catalysts for drug and fuel production, and aims to break into carbon capture — filed a prospectus for an IPO of up to $100 million on […]

Updated: From where Codexis stands, the market for initial public offerings is looking up. The 7-year-old startup — which develops catalysts for drug and fuel production, and aims to break into carbon capture — filed a prospectus for an IPO of up to $100 million on Monday with the SEC. This comes nearly a year and four months after Codexis requested withdrawal of an IPO filing originally submitted April 2008. When Codexis withdrew the filing this summer last September it said it was “due to current public market conditions.”

Based in Redwood City, Calif., Codexis counts oil giants Shell and Chevron among its backers, and is in the business of so-called evolved biocatalysts. The company takes a natural microbe or enzyme and shuffles the DNA sequences to create new variants, then searches for the variants best suited to the development of new, potentially cheaper drugs (Pfizer used Codexis enzymes to produce Lipitor) and non-ethanol biofuels.

This summer, Codexis said it aimed to apply this expertise to the emerging market for carbon capture technologies. And earlier this month, it unveiled a partner in that effort: Codexis bought a 16 percent stake in CO2 Solution and entered an exclusive joint development agreement with the Canadian carbon capture firm. The basic idea is to use enzymes — proteins that accelerate the rate of a biochemical reaction — to “scrub” carbon dioxide from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants or other industrial facilities.

According to Monday’s filing, Codexis plans to use the proceeds from a public offering to help fund working capital and other general corporate purposes, and possibly also acquisitions of other businesses, products or technologies. Codexis says it may use a portion of the funds to boost its production capacity for internal biocatalysts.

When Codexis first filed for an IPO last year, we speculated that the move toward a public offering in one of the least friendly public markets in years may have been spurred by investors hoping for help funding a high burn rate. That could still be the case. At the time Codexis had accumulated losses of $94 million. According to this latest filing, Codexis says it has accumulated a deficit of $154.4 million, as of the end of September 2009, and the company expects “to incur losses and negative cash flow from operating activities for the foreseeable future.”

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