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Biofuels company Gevo is seeking a roughly $100 million IPO by selling over seven million shares priced between $13 and $15 each, a pared-down goal from its $150 million public offering hopes announced last August.

At $13 to $15 a share, Gevo could raise $93 million to $107 million, but the total may actually come out to $89 million after fees, according to VentureWire/Earth2Tech.

Looks like Gevo’s prospectus to potential investors doesn’t quite market it as a 100 percent biofuels company though, instead joining the trend we’ve seen recently of biofuels companies backing away from the costly and difficult process of scaling up biofuel plants, instead using their technology to make chemicals or food additives.

In Gevo’s case, the company is planning to move forward by first commercializing its isobutanol, a versatile alcohol compound that can be used as an ethanol substitute; Gevo in fact wants to retrofit ethanol facilities to produce isobutanol, with commercial production starting in 2012. Its SEC filing placed heavy emphasis on isobutanol’s potential as a building block in raw materials, pointing to opportunities in rubber, lubricants and polyester. Isobutanol can be used as a fuel in existing gas tanks, as a fuel blend with gasoline like ethanol, or as a component in plastics and other polymers.

Still, it’s a hefty ambition on Gevo’s part. Its better-known biofuels rivals, Codexis and Amyris, IPO’d last year for smaller amounts; Codexis for $78 million and Amyris for $85 million. Amyris, like Gevo, was backed by Vinod Khosla’s cleantech fund. Gevo also drew investment from the Richard Branson-backed Virgin Green Fund.

In its SEC filing, Gevo also discloses it has received letters of intent with future customers for its chemicals and fuels. The list included chemicals company Lanxess, the U.S. arm of oil and gas giant Total and United Airlines.

Both Codexis and Amyris were boosted in part by their deals with companies like Shell and Total — but Gevo doesn’t appear to have inked contracts yet with any of the above, although its website lists agriculture and food companies Cargill and ICM as partners. Still, the letters of intent should give some boost to Gevo, which clearly needs to raise cash and has never been profitable, a fact it acknowledged in its S-1:

“While we are a development stage company that has generated minimal revenue and has experienced net losses since inception, we believe that our cost-efficient production route will enable rapid deployment of our technology platform and allow our isobutanol and the products produced from it to be economically competitive with many of the petroleum-derived products used in the chemicals and fuels markets today.”

The IPO’s underwriters will be UBS, Citi and Piper Jaffray.

[Image via Flickr/chicagokoz]


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