Category Archives: Amyris, Inc.

Congress torpedoes Navy, Pentagon agrofuel plans


Both houses have approved legislation that blocks the Navy from buying agrofuels — petroleum substitutes derived from plants, typically grown on industrial Third World plantations — unless they cost no more than conventional fuels.

Their action also bars the Pentagon from funding agrofuel refineries, a major blow to the Obama administration embrace of plant-based fuels, driven largely by Energy Secretary Steve Chu.

It was Chu who, during his tenure as head of the Alwrence Berkeley National Laboratory, played a leading role in winning UC Berkeley that $500 million BP agrofuel research grant and shifted research at the Department of Energy lab toward agrofuel research.

The Pentagon’s agrofuel efforts were initially shaped by Air Force Gen. Charles Wald, the same general also responsible for drafting plans for Africom, the Pentagon’s command for controlling the continent which has seen an ongoing wave of land acquisitions by agofuel corporations.

Just how important is the Pentagon’s agrofuel agenda? Swell, consider one simple fact: The world’s largest single consumer of oil is the U.S. military.

Oh, and the Pentagon’s biggest oil supplier? That would be BP.

The story from Noah Shachtman, writing at Wired’s Danger Room:

The Navy’s ambitious renewable energy plans aren’t sunk quite yet. But they took a major hit Thursday, when the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to all-but-ban the military from buying alternative fuels.

The House Armed Services Committee passed a similar measure earlier this month. But the House is controlled by Republicans, who are generally skeptical of alternative energy efforts. Democrats are in charge of the Senate Armed Services Committee. And if anything, the Senate’s alt-fuel prohibition goes even further than the House’s. If it becomes law, if would not only sink the Navy’s attempt to sail a “Great Green Fleet,” powered largely by biofuels. It would also sabotage a half-billion dollar program to shore up a tottering biofuels industry.

Like their counterparts in the House, senators prohibited the Pentagon from buying renewable fuels that are more expensive than traditional ones — a standard that biofuels many never meet. In addition, the committee blocked the Defense Department from helping build biofuel refineries unless “specifically authorized by law” – just as the Navy was set to pour $170 million into an effort with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture to do precisely that.

>snip<

Like their counterparts in the House, senators prohibited the Pentagon from buying renewable fuels that are more expensive than traditional ones — a standard that biofuels may never meet. In addition, the committee blocked the Defense Department from helping build biofuel refineries unless “specifically authorized by law” – just as the Navy was set to pour $170 million into an effort with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture to do precisely that.

Read the rest.

What might the impact of the Congressional action be?

Consider the case of Amyris, the local company started by Chu protégé and former employee Jay Keasling with the help of some Bill Gates money.

Amyris hopes to make synfuel with the help of genetically engineered microbes, but the diesel fuel they’ve churned out costs a whopping $29 a gallon, no sale under the pending legislation.

If the measure makes it into law, we can expect a major shakeup in the already rickety agrofuel industry.

Amyris, which has been struggling with low stock prices since peaking last year at $33.85, only to fall to $1.57 last week, has managed to make it back up to $2.65 as we write, slightly about the company’s liquidation price, if you don’t factor in that $150 million or more they’d have to pay their major investor if it all falls apart.

Amyris shares up again on investment news


Stock of the genetic engineering outfit started by UC Berkeley “genetic engineer” Jay Keasling with Bill Gates money have been edging up from their record low of 18 May.

When we reported Monday that “green” tech investment banker and Amyris board member John Doerr had bought more shares of Amyris, the SEC announcement of a second major buyer and two smaller ones who pocketed an equal value of shares hadn’t made it online.

But now the form is up, and the buyer of the same number of shares as Doerr [211,864 shares for $499,999] fellow Amyris board member Arthur D. Levinson, who chairs Genetech as well as Apple, where he replaced the Steve Jobs in November.

Smaller buys were made by two other board members, venture capitalist and former BP executive Ralph Alexander [21,186 shares, $49,999], and Google CFO and Senior Vice President Patrick Pichette [20,000 shares, $47,200].

A tagline on Seeking Alpha succinctly describes the reaction: A private placement is boosting shres [sic] of Amyris.

Stock rose on Monday’s news, and shares continued up today, closing at $2.36, up from the day’s opening of $2.12.

That’s up almost 80 cents from Friday’s all-time low, but there’s a way to go before it hits last year’s high. That would be $33.85.

Amyris shares bounce back a bit on stock sale


After dropping bad news after Friday’s market close, Amyris dropped some positive news today before market opening, sending the stock briefly up to $2, before dropping to $1.83 at market close.

Today’s close was 26 cents above the record low set Thursday.

The good news was that the company managed to sell $4.1 million worth of stock, presumably the same shares Fidelity agreed to buy in February, then declined to consummate earlier this month

The details from the company’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

On May 18, 2012, Amyris, Inc. (the “Company”) sold 1,736,100 shares of its common stock in a private placement to certain non-employee directors and related parties for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $4.1 million (the “Placement”). The Placement was completed pursuant to a series of Common Stock Purchase Agreements, each dated May 18, 2012 (the “Purchase Agreements”), which the Company entered into with the following purchasers: Ralph Alexander, Foris Ventures, LLC (an entity affiliated with John Doerr), Arthur Levinson, Naxyris SA (an affiliate of NAXOS Capital Partners, of which Carole Piwnica serves as a director), and Patrick Pichette. The per share purchase and sale price for the shares of Common Stock purchased in the Private Placement was $2.36, the book value per share of the Company’s common stock, as determined in accordance with the corporate governance rules of The NASDAQ Stock Market.

Before the sale, Doerr, a partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers [KPCB], controlling 3.7 million shares. A major player in so-called green tech investment, KPCB includes among its partners former Vice President Al Gore.

A record low closing for Amyris; loan problems?


Shares closed today at $1.59, the lowest end-of-market-day closing price ever and only two cents above the record low ever recorded during a trading day.

Amyris also dropped another end-of-the-day filing on the Securities and Exchange Commission, extending a bridge loan because anticipated funding from a Brazilian government development bank still hasn’t materialized.

Here’s the contents of the form 8-K filing:

This Current Report on Form 8-K is being filed by Amyris, Inc. (the “Company”) to disclose a further extension of the maturity date for the Banco Pine S.A. bridge loan disclosed in the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed on December 28, 2011. As background, on December 22, 2011, effective December 21, 2011, Amyris Brasil Ltda. (“AB”), a Brazilian subsidiary of the Company, entered into a loan agreement with Banco Pine S.A. (the “Lender”) under which the Lender provided AB with a short term loan of R$35,000,000 (approximately US$17.5 million based on the exchange rate as of May 17, 2012) with a maturity date of February 17, 2012. The bridge loan was an advance on anticipated 2012 financing from Nossa Caixa Desenvolvimento, the Sao Paulo State development bank, and Lender, under which such banks may provide AB with loans of up to approximately R$52 million as financing for capital expenditures relating to the Company’s manufacturing facility at Paraíso Bioenergia S.A. in Brazil. On February 17, 2012, AB entered into a supplemental agreement to extend the maturity date for the bridge loan from February 17, 2012 to May 17, 2012.

On May 17, 2012, AB entered into a further supplemental agreement (the “Supplement”) with the Lender under which the parties agreed to extend the maturity date for the repayment of the loan from May 17, 2012 to August 15, 2012. Under the Supplement, in connection with the extension, AB is obligated to pay R$129,150 (approximately US$65,000 based on the exchange rate as of May 17, 2012) as tax on the financial transaction as required by Brazilian law.

Amyris plunges to yet another record low, $1.64


UPDATE III: Lowest-ever closing price of $1.58, a penny up for today’s all-time low.

UPDATE II: $1.57.

UPDATE: Make that $1.60.

The steady downward spiral continues for the stock of Amyris, launched by UC Berkeley bioengineer Jay Keasling with bucks from Bill Gates.

Shares of the Emeryville company traded at $33.85 fourteen months ago when its promises to produce cost effective mass quantities of fuels derived from plant fiber by genetically engineered microbes were much ballyhooed by the press and UC Berkeley praised the company as an archetype of the start-up enterprises the university would spawn to solve the world’s problems and revitalize the local economy.

But with the cost of diesel production at $29 a gallon and their Brazilian refinery plagued by contamination woes, the company has proven a nightmare for small investors who believed the hype.

Should the stock plunge below a dollar, the company could be yanked from the NASDAQ stock exchange. . .

Surprise, surprise: Amyris hits yet another new low


Just a penny less than yesterday’s new record low, with shares reaching $1.85 in early trading today.

That’s exactly $32 less per share than just 14 months ago. Not a good sign for the UC Berkeley-spawned genetic engineering company started with funds from Bill Gates.

UPDATE: Down more  to $1.80. If it drops below a dollar, the stock could lose is NASDAQ listing.

UPDATE II: That’s where it closed, after a drop to $1.79, the new record low.

Amyris, the corporate Rodney Dangerfield?


The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield is most famous for a single line:

Once upon a time, the UC Berkeley-spawned, Bill Gates-endowed startup did get more than its share of respect, thanks to the celebrity status of founder and Cal “bioengineer” Jay Keasling, who’s appeared on The Colbert Report and was named Scientist of the Year for 2006 by Discover Magazine.

In 2010, Keasling was confidently declaring that the genetically engineered microbes he’d help develop to turn plant fiber into fuel in the laboratory could be scaled up from the test tube  to refinery scale operations with no problems, ensuring commercial quantities of fuel to stave off the peak oil crisis.

That, of course, has proven a fantasy, with Amyris now paying $29 bucks for every gallon of diesel fuel derived from its patented, genetically engineered microbes.

With losses soaring, the company’s stock has tanked, plunging from a high of $33.85 14 months ago to today’s new record low of $1.86.

The company’s rapid descent toward penny stock levels has thrown a damper on new companies seeking to issue initial public offerings, dubbed “the Amyris effect” by Biofuels Digest editor Jim Lane.

Now comes more news about the company’s toxic impacts on the IPO sector from Kevin Quon of Seeking Alpha in a story about the failed IPO of Enerkem, a much-ballyhooed company which hopes to turn sewage into fuel.

Here’s the money quote, particularly that last sentence:

The implications of the company’s withdrawal from its IPO process casts a long shadow upon the public biofuel space. Similar market condition issues were faced with an IPO of Ceres (CERE), a biofuel crop specialist, which faced delays in its own IPO back in early 2012. Yet the largest ramifications are both reflected by and reflective of the current market conditions of recent biofuel companies that underwent an IPO in the past two years. Companies like Amryis (AMRS), Gevo (GEVO), and Codexis (CDXS) all continue to trade under their IPO prices. For its part, Amryis had even helped contribute to the industry collapse through its inability to scale up its production facilities problem-free.

Read the rest.

Amyris has proven very adept at one process, the reverse of what Enerkem had planned: Turning cash into trash.