Metabolix considers sale of biopolymer, Yield10 businesses

By Erin Voegele | May 25, 2016

Massachusetts-based Metabolix has announced it is exploring strategic alternatives for its specialty biopolymer business and its Yield10 crop science program, including the possibility of selling its biopolymers business to a third party and either refocusing on the development and commercialization of Yield10 Bioscience, or potentially selling the Yield10 business as well. Mexabolix cited outside strategic interest in its biopolymers business and a challenging financing environment as key considerations leading to this development.

In a statement, Metabolix said it is currently engaged in discussions with interested parties regarding the potential sale of its specialty biopolymers business as an operating business and may engage in discussions with additional parties as its progresses through its strategic review. In addition, the company said it has been working on the potential “spin out” of Yield10 Bioscience for several months and is currently gauging interest for the potential sale of Yield10 as an alternative to continuing to develop the crop science business internally.

As of March 31, Metabolix said it had unrestricted cash and cash equivalents of approximately $5.3 million and is seeking additional funding to complete its review of strategic alternatives. In addition to traditional equity financing and its equity facility with Aspire Capital, Metabolix is also exploring the availability of equity or debt bridge financing, including financing that may be secured by the its intellectual property and other assets. Metabolix also said it is considering select opportunities to monetize assets to provide resources necessary to complete the strategic review process. According to Metabolix, if it does not secure additional capital resources before the end of May, it will be forced to wind down some or all of its operations and pursue options for liquidating its assets, including inventory, equipment and intellectual property.

Metabolix said it will not hold a first quarter investor call. However, the company did file a quarterly report with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission. According to that report, Metabolix reported $675,000 in total revenue for the first quarter of this year, up from $645,000 during the same period of 2015. The company reported a net loss of nearly $6.5 million for the first quarter, compared to a net loss of $5.84 million during the same quarter of the prior year. Net loss was 24 cents per share for the first quarter of this year, compared to a net loss of 26 cents per share during the same quarter of last year.

In April, Metabolix released financial results for 2015 and announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CJ CheilJedang Corp. for a strategic commercial manufacturing arrangement for specialty PHAs, including Metabolix’s newly launched amorphous PHA. 

Under the non-binding MOU, Metabolix said the two companies would work together to reach definitive agreements under which CJ would fund, construct and operate a 10 kilotonne (22 million pound) PHA production unit at its Fort Dodge, Iowa, facility. Metabolix would buy the specialty PHAs produced at the plant from CJ and market and sell the material to its commercial customers. The first quarter 2016 report filed with the SEC in May provides no update of that agreement.