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 Montreal. 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.
AmberWorks now has samples of the first two grades for development by customers: Ingeo AW 200 D for thermoforming and Ingeo AW 300 D for injection molding. The material is approved for food contact by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Steve Davies, NatureWorks director of marketing and public affairs.
BioAmber produces bio-based succinic acid, a feedstock for bio-based modified polybutylene succinic polymers. NatureWorks of Minnetonka, Minn., makes Ingeo-brand polylactic acid resin.
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.