Mascoma buys SunOpta BioProcess

by Eric Schroeder
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LEBANON, N.H. — Mascoma Corp., a biofuels company that develops sustainable, low-cost, low-carbon biofuels from cellulosic biomass, has acquired the SunOpta BioProcess Inc. (S.B.I.) division of Toronto-based SunOpta Inc.

SunOpta BioProcess designs and supplies equipment as well as process technology for pilot and commercial demonstration cellulosic ethanol projects.

According to the two companies, the combination of Mascoma’s consolidated bioprocessing technology and S.B.I.’s fiber preparation and pretreatment technology brings together two core technical competencies essential for the effective conversion of non-food cellulose into ethanol and high-value co-products. In addition to these technical synergies, the combined entity will have operational presence in both the United States and Canada, and an extensive intellectual property position in the cellulosic biofuels sector, with broad coverage of both pretreatment and consolidated bioprocessing technologies.

“We are pleased to announce this important and strategic acquisition,” said Bill Brady, chief executive officer of Mascoma. “We share a common vision of solving one of the most important energy problems in the world: enabling a sustainable transportation fuel sector by converting cellulosic biomass to fuel in a low-cost, sustainable way. The combined company has extensive commercial experience, with the application of our technologies around the world, and the technology breadth to offer a complete biofuels solution. We believe the combination of Mascoma and S.B.I. significantly advances our capabilities in the cellulosic ethanol field and positions the combined entity for a successful future.”

Steve Bromley, president and c.e.o. of SunOpta, added, “We believe that Mascoma is the ideal partner for S.B.I. given its leading edge biotechnology in the conversion of non-food biomass into biofuels. This transaction allows SunOpta shareholders to continue to participate in the commercialization of low-cost biofuels and xylitol through an equity investment in Mascoma. More importantly, it allows SunOpta to realize on its stated objective to focus on its core value-added natural and organic foods business.”

Both S.B.I. and Mascoma have made progress toward commercialization and collectively have development partners in the United States, Canada, China, Brazil and South Africa, all of which should benefit from the combination.

The transaction values S.B.I. at approximately $51 million. Preferred and common shares in Mascoma will fund the transaction. As a result, the combined company will be approximately 73% owned by existing Mascoma shareholders, approximately 18% owned by SunOpta, and the balance owned by other S.B.I. shareholders. Jeremy Kendall, chairman of SunOpta and former chairman of S.B.I., will join Mascoma’s board of directors.
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