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Amyris locks up $83.7M to scale up biomass-to-fuels tech

Amyris locks up $83.7M to scale up biomass-to-fuels tech

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Earlier this month, Amyris cut its production targets and fueled speculation the company would shift completely away from advanced biofuels. These latest funds could help it scale up and stay on track.

Amyris, the California-based company that uses genetic engineering to convert biomass into chemicals, fuels and lubricants, has secured $83.7 million to help it scale up its technology.

The funding news comes more than two weeks since Amyris cut its production plans and revealed it won't have positive cash flow this year. During a call with investors this month, CEO John Melo said Amyris will finish its Paraiso production factory in Brazil and focus on achieving consistent yields. He said the company won't complete an expansion project at an existing plant in Spain. Without the expansion, Amyris won't meet its earlier production forecast of 40 million liters to 50 million liters of the chemical farnesene, a fragrant hydrocarbon that can be used to make lubricants, diesel and the cosmetics ingredient squalane.

Amyris announced this morning that it completed a $58.7 million private placements of its common stock and struck a deal to privately place $25 million in aggregate principal amount of 3 percent senior unsecured notes, which come due in 2017.

Existing investors Temasek Holdings, Total Gas and Power USA (which already owns 21 percent of Amyris) and Naxyris participated. New investors include Biolding Investment, a company owned by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar; an entity affiliated with director John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a current stockholder; and an entity affiliated with Amyris director Fernando Reinach. Biolding has agreed to invest an additional $15 million in common stock once Amyris completes its Paraíso plant in Brazil by March 31, 2013.

Photo: Amyris

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure