Bio-On SpA, the Italian maker of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biopolymers that made headlines in July 2019 when it was accused of being "a house of cards" by U.S. hedge fund Quintessential Capital Management, is for sale.
Bio-On declared bankruptcy at the end of 2019.
A court in Bologna recently announced that the liquidation has been approved and that the company's assets are to be put up for auction at a public sale on May 5.
Bologna-based Bio-On came under severe financial pressure and legal investigation following the 2019 report that claimed Bio-On was "a house of cards" and "a massive bubble based on flawed technology and fictitious sales thanks to a network of empty shell companies."
The value of Bio-On shares fell 50 percent and trading was suspended. Italian prosecutors then opened a probe over the alleged market manipulation and accounting irregularities at the company. Five months later, the company was declared bankrupt.
Since then, the company continued operating at minimal capacity, mainly to keep the assets in running order. The number of employees has fallen from around 100 to 28 now.
A Virtual Data Room has been opened by the trustees for the purpose of due diligence investigations, to which interested parties will be given access.
The starting price for the assets has been set at just under 95 million euros ($114.5 million) and subsequently raised by a minimum bid increment of 100,000 euros ($120,430). The assets include the plants, brands and patents of the company, as well as a selection of vehicles, among which a Porsche Cayman and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Bio-On founder Marco Astorri is hoping that the assets will be sold as a single package to one buyer in order to keep the patents and know-how together.
While the names of various potential buyers, including Versalis and Novamont, have recently been circulating, nothing has yet been made public.