Biofuel refinery company Imperium files for IPO
Hawaii is one of the three sites where it plans to build a plant
Imperium Renewables Inc., the Seattle company that is planning a $90 million biodiesel plant in Kapolei, filed for an initial public offering this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to sell up to $345 million in stock.
Imperium said it intends to use the offering proceeds for the financing, development and construction of the Hawaii plant and two others -- one in Argentina and the other at an undisclosed location on the East Coast -- as well as for general corporate purposes.
The company already is preparing to open what it says will be the largest biodiesel plant in the country, with capacity of 100 million gallons, this summer in Grays Harbor County, Wash. It is also evaluating sites in Belgium, China and the Philippines.
The company didn't disclose how many shares will be offered, timing or an estimated price range for the offering. The company said it has applied to list its stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol "IMPR."
Imperium hasn't made a profit since its inception in March 2004. For the three months ended March 31, the company's loss widened to $2.8 million from $617,000 in the same period a year earlier. Product sales were $1.4 million in the most recent quarter.
But Craig Cuddeback, chief operating officer of industry trade organization the Cleantech Group, said Imperium's IPO could be a significant benchmark for other biodiesel companies. While Imperium's lack of operating history could scare off some investors, Cuddeback believes there will be market demand.
"I think this will be an important company to watch, and it will set the tone for what other IPOs are going to be able to do," said Cuddeback, whose group is based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Last year, venture capitalists poured $740 million into biofuel companies, with $291 million of that going into the subsegment of biodiesel.
Imperium has had little trouble raising money, pulling in $214 million in equity and debt financing in February. As of March 31, the company had $67.4 million in cash and cash equivalents in the bank.
Imperium said in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing that its risk factors include "unfavorable public opinions concerning the use of palm oil, soybeans and other feedstock, or negative publicity arising from such use."
It also faces competition from 105 biodiesel plants already operating and 85 others under construction. Last month, ConocoPhillips and Tyson Foods announced a joint venture to build a plant that could produce 175 million gallons of biodiesel each year.
The Associated Press and Seattle Post-Intelligencer contributed to this report.