Bio-fuels pioneer Lanzatech raises US$55.8m

Turning waste into fuel. Dr Bjorn Heijstra from LanzaTech with a bottle of ethanol made from steel manufacturing waste gas. Lanzatech uses microbes to turn waste gases into ethanol fuel. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times
Turning waste into fuel. Dr Bjorn Heijstra from LanzaTech with a bottle of ethanol made from steel manufacturing waste gas. Lanzatech uses microbes to turn waste gases into ethanol fuel. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times

Bio-fuels pioneer Lanzatech has achieved its largest capital-raising to date, announcing it has secured US$55.8 million in new capital from a combination of leading Malaysian state and private funders, along with existing investors in the US, China, and New Zealand.

With its scientific headquarters in Auckland, but headquartered in the US, Lanzatech is increasingly cited as an emerging leader in the fast-developing global bio-fuels industry, with strategic relationships ranging from China's most prestigious state science agency to the US Department of Defense's innovation arm.

The latest deal, described as its "Series C round'' of fundraising, comes ahead of a possible sharemarket listing as early as next year, most probably in the US or China.

The lead investor in this round of capital-raising adds a new dimension for Lanzatech by bringing on board the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund as the lead participant.

A partnership between the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation and San Francisco-based merchant bank Burrill & Co, the fund is closely linked to the country's state-led economic development strategy.

Also on board in this round are the Malaysian state oil company, Petronas, and Dialog Group, described as a specialist technical services provider to the petrochemical industry.

Based on Lanzatech's development strategy to date, the emergence of Malaysian investors on its register suggests the likely announcement of joint venture projects with the likes of Petronas, using Lanzatech's patented fermentation technology.

Petronas chief executive Haida Shenny Hazri said the Malaysian state oil company's investment "provides a platform for Petronas to pursue the integration of LanzaTech's technology on converting waste gases with PETRONAS' operations.''

The Lanzatech process allows bio-fuels and other chemicals to be produced from industrial waste gas streams, such as steel mill and oil refinery flues. The use of waste gases is attractive because it avoids feedstocks derived from crops and agricultural land that might otherwise be used for food.

Existing Lanzatech investors to participate in the latest capital-raising were the US-based venture capital fund Khosla Ventures, run by billionaire green-tech investor Vinod Khosla, Shanghai-based venture capital fund, Qiming Venture Partners, and the original New Zealand investor group, K1W1, involving Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall.

To date, the company has raised more than US$85 million.

"The size of this round and the quality of the new and returning investors is a strong validation of not only our technology, but the unparalleled opportunity for Lanzatech to be a global leader in biofuels and biochemicals markets,'' said the company's Illinois-based chief executive, Jennifer Holmgren.

- BusinessDesk

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