In Canada, Mitsui has invested an additional CDN$25 million in the BioAmber (BIOA) joint venture for 10% of the equity, increasing its stake from 30% to 40%. Mitsui will also play a stronger role in the commercialization of bio-succinic acid produced in Sarnia, providing dedicated resources alongside BioAmber’s commercial team. BioAmber will maintain a 60% controlling stake in the joint venture.
“Mitsui is continuously committed to renewable chemistry and through our increased equity stake we will be more actively involved in joint venture management and sales, leveraging our global sales platforms,” said Hidebumi Kasuga, General Manager, Specialty Chemicals Division, Basic Chemicals Business Unit. “We are very happy with Sarnia’s fermentation and plant operations performance to date and the JV has received quality certifications from more than 90 customers. With this progress, I am confident that Sarnia’s bio-succinic acid will be penetrating the global marketplace quickly.”
“Mitsui’s increased commitment to the Sarnia plant is a strong endorsement of its value and potential. We have in Mitsui a financially robust, global partner that is motivated by Sarnia’s progress and prospects,” said Jean-Francois Huc, CEO of BioAmber. “This investment strengthens Sarnia’s balance sheet as we ramp up production and sales.”
The publicly disclosed relationship between Mitsui and BioAmber dates back at least to 2011, when BioAmber and Mitsui partnered to build and operate the previously announced manufacturing facility in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The initial phase of the facility is expected to have production capacity of 17,000 metric tons of biosuccinic acid and commence commercial production in 2013. The partners intend to subsequently expand capacity and produce 35,000 metric tons of succinic acid and 23,000 metric tons of 1,4 butanediol (BDO) on the site.
Bioamber and Mitsui also said they would ultimately jointly build and operate two additional facilities that, together with Sarnia, will have a total cumulative capacity of 165,000 tons of succinic acid and 123,000 tons of BDO.
BioAmber’s Sarnia joint venture with Mitsui & Co. Ltd. began shipping bio-succinic acid to customers in October 2015 and is operating its manufacturing process at commercial-scale. Management expects the Sarnia plant to increase production volumes progressively to reach full capacity in 2017.
When BioAmber raised $45 million dollars in a 2011 Series B financing to accelerate the commercialization of succinic acid and modified PBS (polybutylene succinate, a renewable, biodegradable polymer), the round was led by NAXOS Capital Partners and included Mitsui & Co, Sofinnova Partners, and the Cliffton Group. BioAmber will also strengthen its management team and build out its in-house R&D capabilities to accelerate the development of its adipic acid platform. BioAmber operates the only dedicated biobased succinic acid plant and has partnerships with market leaders including Cargill, DuPont Applied Biosciences, Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Chemical.