Lanxess makes $10 million investment in BioAmber

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LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY (Feb. 22, 3:50 p.m. ET) — Materials maker Lanxess AG has made a $10 million investment in bioplasticizer 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 bioplasticizer 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, N.C. The global market for phthalate-free plasticizers is estimated at more than $1.5 billion per year, with annual growth of almost 7 percent.

Specialty chemical and rubber products made by Lanxess include specialty grades of nylon resin. The firm has annual sales of more than $9 billion.

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 in November filed plans 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.