BASF SE is pulling out of a joint venture deal with Dutch biotechnology company Avantium to produce PEF-building block FDCA. PEF is a 100 percent bio-based alternative for PET.
In a Dec. 18 statement, Avantium said the German chemical company has announced that it would exit from the Synvina joint venture, effective Jan. 15, 2019.
The two companies revealed their dispute in October, stating that they disagreed on the timing for the fulfillment of the criteria to invest in the commercial-scale plant for FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid). FDCA is the main building block for the new bio-based polymer PEF (polyethylenefuranoate).
In its latest statement, Avantium said it "continued to disagree" with BASF's interpretation of the joint venture agreement. The two companies are currently discussing the terms and conditions of an exit.
The disagreement follows Avantium's decision in January to extend the pilot phase of Synvia's FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid) production by 24 to 36 months in order to “optimize” future commercial-scale production.
BASF maintains that investment criteria for the reference plant should have been assessed in the fourth quarter of 2018, as originally envisaged in the joint venture agreement.
Avantium, however, disagrees with BASF's interpretation of the joint venture agreement, saying it is convinced that the two-to-three year extension of the PEF pilot phase “logically necessitates a postponed final assessment.”
Upon BASF's exit, Avantium will acquire the German company's equity interest in the JV and Synvina will continue its operations as a fully Avantium-owned company. In addition, technology, know-how and people will revert to Avantium.
The Dutch company will pursue alternative routes for commercializing the technology.
Synvina formed in 2016 to commercialize the technology developed by Avantium. The YXY technology converts plant-based sugar into FDCA and plastics. The intent of the parties was to build the first commercial-scale plant for FDCA, the main building block for PEF, in Antwerp, Belgium.
“We remain fully confident in our YXY technology and the unique properties of PEF, confirmed by high market interest and existing Synvina partnerships,” Avantium CEO Tom van Aken said.
The Avantium executive also said that his company was looking forward to building on the work undertaken within Synvina and “being free to pursue further options” to reach the full potential of PEF.