Amyris Biotechnologies, a startup that develops synthetic organisms to make chemicals and biofuels — and one of our 10 greentech IPO picks last week — has officially filed to raise $100 million in an IPO, according to a filing on Friday. The company, which will go public under the symbol AMRS, already raised a total of $244 million in funding and plans to start producing its synthetic organism-based biofuel at commercial scale in 2011.
In the company’s S-1 filing, it revealed some interesting information, including that this month it created a joint venture with Brazilian ethanol and sugar giant Usina São Martinho, as well as the fact that the company has never made a profit:
What Amyris Does: “We genetically modify microorganisms, primarily yeast, and use them as living factories in established fermentation processes to convert plant-sourced sugars into potentially thousands of target molecules.” The company’s first commercialization efforts are focused on a molecule called farnesene and Amyris will use Brazilian sugarcane as its primary feedstock.
Brazilian Partners: Amyris disclosed that in April 2010 it created a joint venture with Brazilian ethanol and sugar giant Usina São Martinho, and has “non-binding letters of intent” with 3 other Brazilian sugar giants Bunge Limited, Cosan and Açúcar Guarani, a subsidiary of Tereos. Amyris says these partners will enable the company access to “over ten million tons of sugarcane crush capacity annually.” Amyris plans to build a plant with Grupo São Martinho by 2012.
Scale Up: Amyris plans commercialization for 2011 and its Grupo São Martinho plant to go online in the second quarter of 2012.
Small Revenues, Never Profitable: Founded in 2003, Amyris generated revenues of $13.89 million in revenues in 2008, and $64.61 million revenues in 2009, and lost $42.34 million in 2008, and $64.80 million in 2009. Amyris “As of December 31, 2009, we had an accumulated deficit of $120.4 million.”
Key to Success: “The successful development of our business depends on our ability to increase the efficiency with which we produce these target molecules from feedstock.” Amyris’ production costs depend on its ability to increase its yield — basically the amount of the desired molecule that can be produced from a fixed amount of feedstock — from its yeast strains. Other production costs include “productivity, separation efficiency and chemical process efficiency.”
No Definitive Production Agreements: “While we are in active discussions with several contract manufacturers, we do not currently have definitive agreements with contract manufacturers that would provide the production capacity required to achieve commercialization of our products in 2011 at the volumes we intend, or at all.”
Costs for the Usina São Martinho Plant: While the deal with Usina São Martinho is supposed to be capital efficient, the construction costs are expected to cost between $80 million to $100 million.
Brazilian Politics: “Brazilian presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in October 2010. The Brazilian president has significant power to determine public policies and introduce measures affecting the Brazilian economy and companies such as ours. The new government, whether or not controlled by the current president’s political party, may seek to implement changes to existing public policies. For example, the current or future government may face pressure to reduce public investments (including investments in infrastructure), due to increasing inflation and public debt. This could have a material adverse impact on our operations.”
Jet Fuel Future: “We believe that we will also have the capacity to produce a jet fuel that is competitive with existing petroleum-sourced jet fuel. Through a different combination of fermentation and chemical finishing steps, we have produced fuels that have the chemical properties required of jet fuel. We have agreements with and/or have begun testing a series of jet fuels through this process with major engine and aircraft manufacturers.”
Shares Ownership: Venture firms Kleiner Perkins and Khosla Ventures each owned 15.4 percent before the offering, TPG Biotechnology Partners II, L.P owns 12.1 percent, Advanced Equities Financial Corp owns 6.4 percent.