Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Davis-based company announces initial plans to go public

Pam Marrone founded Marrone Bio Innovations in Davis. Enterprise file photo

Marrone Bio Innovations announced this week that it has initiated a process that — if completed without a hiccup — would move the local biopesticide startup company into public ownership.

Though no date has been established for that to happen, the company took the first step by filing a registration statement of the form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of stock.

The provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products has grown to more than 100 employees since it set root in Davis in 2006. In that time, it has commercialized three award-winning products and has more in testing phases at the company’s plant at 2121 Second St.

Marrone Bio Innovations announced in March plans to retrofit a once-shuttered biodiesel plant in rural Michigan, and double its workforce within three years. The latest news from the company, however, is its intention to trade shares on public markets.

Initial public offerings are used by companies to raise expansion capital, to possibly monetize the investments of early private investors and to become publicly traded enterprises.

Investment banks Jefferies LLC and Piper Jaffray & Co. will act as lead joint book-running managers for the offering, and Stifel, Nicolaus & Company and Roth Capital Partners were named as co-managers.

The number of shares to be sold, and the associated price range, has not yet been stated. Shares cannot be sold until the registration statement filed with the SEC has been declared effective.

Further comment from the company was not available this week, as there is a “quiet period” following the filing of a company’s S-1. During this time, there are legal restrictions on what can be discussed or promoted, at least until the SEC staff declares the registration statement effective.

On June 27, Marrone Bio Innovations also announced that it received the federal patent for sarmentine, the active ingredient in one of its new bioherbicides. It’s the first patent on a product candidate that researchers in the Davis lab themselves discovered and isolated.

Other commercial products of the biopesticide company, which was founded by Davis resident Pam Marrone, have come from licensed microbes granted through resources such as USDA’s technology transfer program.

Marrone is an entrepreneur with 30 years of experience in the agriculture industry. She previously founded another Davis-based company, AgraQuest, in 1995, where she served as head of the business unit until April 2006.

AgraQuest had its first bid to go public derailed by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Marrone was reported as saying a few years later that the bubble in the tech market bursting was a further hindrance to proposing an initial public offering.

But the biopesticide industry is seeing rapid growth in today’s economy. The market is expected to grow up to $3.2 billion by 2017, according to a report published by MarketsandMarkets.

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

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