Stora Enso acquires U.S.-based biotechnology company
Stora Enso has acquired 100 percent of the shares of the U.S.-based company Virdia, a leading developer of extraction and separation technologies for conversion of cellulosic biomass into highly refined sugars and lignin. The upfront debt-free transaction value is approximately $33 million with additional potential payouts totaling approximately $29 million following completion of specific technical and commercial milestones by 2017. Virdia’s impact on Stora Enso’s 2014 sales and earnings is expected to be limited.
The acquisition of Virdia supports the vision of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials Division in becoming a significant player in biochemicals and biomaterials. The technology enables more efficient extraction of different valuable fractions of the biomass, allowing the possibility to develop and commercialize cost-effective renewable solutions to address well-identified market-driven needs. This is a new step in implementing the division’s strategy, following the recent lignin extraction investment at Sunila Mill in Finland.
“This acquisition is in line with our strategy of growing in biobased chemicals, ingredients and solutions, building on cost-effective, non-food-competing raw materials. These solutions will contribute to a more sustainable future by replacing fossil-based materials in various applications with renewable and cost-effective choices. We are now investing in a new technology platform that will enable us to reach new industries and value chains, and create significant sustainable profit growth for our company,” said Juan Carlos Bueno, executive vice president of Stora Enso Biomaterials.
Founded in 2007, Virdia is a private, venture-capital-backed company. It runs a pilot facility in Danville, Virginia. The main advantages of its technology are the cost-competitiveness and high purity of the output, which enable a variety of further conversion and upgrading possibilities for sugars and lignin as renewable intermediates for the specialty chemicals, construction, coatings, personal care and food industries, among others.