Mascoma, Biofuels Maker Backed by Big VCs, Files for IPO

Big news today in New England cleantech—a sector that could certainly use some positive developments. Lebanon, NH-based Mascoma, a biofuels firm that plans to break ground on a cellulosic ethanol plant in Michigan later this year, has filed for an initial public offering. In its SEC filing, Mascoma says it intends to sell up to $100 million worth of shares in its IPO, which is being underwritten by Morgan Stanley, UBS Investment Bank, and Credit Suisse. (The $100M figure doesn’t mean much at this point, though.)

A number of big venture firms are investors in Mascoma. Among them are Khosla Ventures (which owns 17.5 percent of the company), Flagship Ventures (8.7 percent), General Catalyst (8.3 percent), and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (7.2 percent). But the largest owner is SunOpta (NASDAQ: STKL), a Canadian food and mineral company that has gained a 20.6 percent stake in Mascoma, mostly through a $51 million merger a year ago. As of the fall of 2009, the company said it had raised about $100 million in private equity and another $100 million in government grants and loans.

Mascoma started in 2005 out of Dartmouth College and is led by CEO Bill Brady. The company has developed a process for producing ethanol from non-food plants such as wood chips and grass. So far it’s not profitable. Mascoma made $15.5 million in revenues in 2010, but had a net loss of $25.9 million. For the first six months of 2011, the firm made $6.7 million in revenue and had a net loss of $14.5 million.

Xconomy first profiled Mascoma in 2009, when the startup gave us access to its lab facilities in New Hampshire. We also wrote about the company’s plan for its Michigan operations last year, with a major update early this year.

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