By Frank Esposito, Plastics News Staff
Leverkusen, Germany -- Materials maker Lanxess AG has made a $10 million investment in bioplasticiser maker BioAmber Inc.
The investment gives Leverkusen, Germany-based Lanxess a minority stake in BioAmber, which is based in Minneapolis. Lanxess Functional Chemicals business head Jorge Nogueira will serve on BioAmber's board of directors.
Lanxess' investment "shows our commitment to launching a new generation of plasticizers that meet regulatory requirements and can also score in terms of sustainability," Nogueira said in a Feb. 22 news release. BioAmber already had planned to build a bioplasticiser plant adjacent to a Lanxess facility in Sarnia, Ontario, with an opening set for 2013.
Lanxess is a major producer of phthalate-free plasticizers. In October, the firm made an acquisition in that field, buying Unitex Chemical Corp. of Greensboro, North Carolina The global market for phthalate-free plasticisers is estimated at more than $1500 million per year, with annual growth of almost 7 percent.
Speciality chemical and rubber products made by Lanxess include speciality grades of nylon resin. The firm has annual sales of more than $9000 million.
BioAmber has had news aplenty in recent months. Just last week, it announced it was forming a new joint venture - called AmberWorks - with bioplastics maker NatureWorks llc. AmberWorks will focus on developing new bioplastic compounds for food service products.
BioAmber also filed plans in November for an initial public offering of stock. No date has been set for the IPO. Since late 2008, BioAmber has raised about $75 million from investors including Mitsui & Co. Ltd of Tokyo.
In BioAmber's deal with Mitsui, the partners will build a plant to make 17 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) of succinic acid in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, tp start commercial production in 2013. The partners will expand capacity on the site to 35 ktpa of succinic acid and 23 ktpa of 1,4-butanediol (BDO). Next the partners will build two facilities that, together with Sarnia, will have a total cumulative capacity of 165 ktpa of succinic acid and 123 ktpa of BDO.