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Amyris disclosed in a filing this week that it has hooked up with French oil giant Total, which bought a 17 percent stake in the biofuel developer and could help deliver a lot more confidence with investors for its upcoming IPO.

Updated: Can a new high-profile backer and new funds help biofuel startup Amyris avoid the fate that befell other recent greentech IPO hopefuls, like solar maker Solyndra, which earlier this week pulled its IPO? Amyris disclosed in a filing this week that it has hooked up with French oil giant Total, which bought a 17 percent stake in the biofuel developer and could help deliver a lot more confidence with investors for its upcoming IPO.

Amyris also disclosed that it’s raised a total of $138.6 million, and recently inked partnerships with a variety of firms including Cosan, M&G Finanziaria, Soliance, Procter & Gamble Co. and a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell. Seven-year-old Amyris, which previously raised more than $244 million from a long list of investors, including Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, now counts Total as its largest investor.

Like Tesla’s recent deal with Toyota, Amyris’ connection to Total could help investors feel like some of the risk of the company has been mitigated in its IPO. Total is a massive oil company and says it’s the “fifth largest publicly-traded integrated international oil and gas company in the world,” according to marketcap. The issue with biofuels is reaching mass scale and commercialization — something with which Total has a lot of experience.

Amyris filed to raise $100 million in an IPO back in April, despite the fact that it has never turned a profit on a quarterly or annual basis. The company, which plans to start producing its synthetic organism-based biofuel at commercial scale in 2011, saw a loss of $16.3 million in the first quarter of 2010, up from $12.4 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenues for the quarter climbed to $13.7 million — including $2.3 million recognized from the DOE grant — during the first three months of this year, up from $11.6 million in revenue a year earlier.

Amyris says it sold 4.9 million gallons of ethanol (Update: to be clear this is other companies’ ethanol) in the first quarter of 2010 — more than it sold during all of 2008 and upwards of six times the 700,000 gallons it sold during the same period in 2009. According to Amyris the uptick stems from a growing customer base and the addition of new storage terminals in its network for distributing third party ethanol to wholesale customers.

Amyris represents one company in a flood of firms working under the banner of greentech that are hoping to go public in 2010. In total, at least 19 companies aim to raise some $9.6 billion worldwide in 2010. In April Codexis, a Redwood City, Calif.-based developer of biocatalysts for drug and biofuel production, debuted on NASDAQ at the low end of its offering and has dropped several more dollars in price since then.

Photo courtesy of DOE

Related research on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Cleantech Financing Trends: 2010 and Beyond

By Katie Fehrenbacher

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