Bioplastics maker Metabolix Inc. is exiting that market to focus on crop enhancement technology.
The decision has prompted London-based bioscience firm Cellulac plc — an investor in Metabolix — to again propose a merger of the two companies.
In a July 21 news release, officials with Woburn, Mass.-based Metabolix said they will look to sell the firm's biopolymers business assets. The move will eliminate 45 jobs at the biopolymers and corporate levels.
“This is a dramatic restructuring and an unfortunate but necessary step to bring the company forward with a new strategy,” President and CEO Joseph Shaulson said in the release. Metabolix now will focus on its Yield10 technologies, which officials said are applicable to food and feed crops.
Although its plant-based resins have won several industry awards, Metabolix has struggled financially. The firm posted a loss of almost $23.7 million in 2015 as sales fell 7 percent to just under $2.6 million. Metabolix lost $29.5 million in 2014.
Company officials said in May that Metabolix was considering strategic alternatives, including a possible sale. The announcement came less than two months after Metabolix said it had a plan in place to bring its biopolymers production back to the United States.
A July 25 letter to Metabolix investors from Cellulac chief executive Gerard Brandon was highly critical of Metabolix management. Brandon said Metabolix declined a merger offer his firm had made in May without even informing shareholders.
“Astonishingly, after wasting two months and what appears to be a further $4 million in costs, the Metabolix board declined the Cellulac merger offer,” Brandon wrote.
Metabolix has raised $326 million from shareholders for biopolymer research and development over its 24-year history, according to Brandon. The Cellulac merger offer “is likely to be the last opportunity to transform Metabolix, a 24-year-loss-making company, into part of a high growth enlarged group with multiple revenue streams for biochemicals and biopolymers,” he added.
On Wall Street, Metabolix's per-share stock price was above $4 as recently as mid-2015 but was around 80 cents in early trading July 26.