Biofuel Company Amyris Debuts on Nasdaq

Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc. began trading Tuesday (NASDAQ: AMRS) at $16 dollars per share–lower than the target range of $18 to $20 previously announced by the biofuel company.

However, the share price rose to $17.40 on Tuesday before settling back to around $16.60 in Wednesday morning trading.

The Emeryville, Calif. company raised nearly $85 million through the sale of 5.3 million shares.

Amyris, which spun out of the University of California, Berkeley, modifies microogranisms–primarily yeast–to convert plant sugars into desired molecules. The company’s first product was an antimalarial drug. However; its grand scheme is to produce a "drop-in" biofuel that could replace, or be blended with gasoline without the infrastructure changes required for blending ethanol.

To date the company has raised more than $200 million from high-profile investors such as Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, TPG Biotech and Votorantim Novos Negocios.

Amyris expects to commercialize its first renewable product starting 2011.

The company is particularly focused on the Brazil’s sugarcane biofuel industry. In December, the company bough a 40% stake in a Brazilian ethanol project owned by the São Martinho Group for $82 million. That mill is expected to be operational in 2011 or 2012.

Amyris also has a pilot plant and demonstration facility in Campinas, Brazil.

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