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Ceres to debut at $21 to $23 per share

By   /   Thursday, January 26th, 2012  /   Comments Off on Ceres to debut at $21 to $23 per share

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Thousand Oaks-based energy crop developer Ceres has plans to make its debut on the Nasdaq on Feb. 8 under the symbol CERE and raise $132 million.

Shares in the company, which uses genetic marking technology to speed the development of non-food energy crops such as drought-resistant switchgrass, are expected hit the markets at between $21 and $23. Goldman, Sachs & Co., Barclays Capital, Piper Jaffray, Raymond James and Simmons & Co. International are the underwriters.

Ceres initially declared its intention to go public last summer, seeking to raise as much as $100 million. Ceres, which has 88 full-time employees, has raised more than $100 million in private financing since it was founded in 1996, according to Business Times research.

The initial public offering would give those longstanding investors an exit opportunity. Ceres said it will put up 5 million shares for sale during the offering and give the underwriters options to about 750,000 shares. If the underwriters exercise their options, the total pool of common shares will be about 23.8 million, meaning existing investors will hold about 80 percent of the company. They won’t be able to sell their shares for 180 days after the initial public offering.

Jim Lane, the editor and publisher of Biofuels Digest, a trade publication, told the Business Times in 2011 that Ceres appeared to be aiming for a niche with non-food, drought-resistant crops that are unlikely to gain attention from larger firms such as Monsanto, which is a part owner of Ceres.

“These are exactly the right places to work in terms of making it possible to grow energy crops where crops don’t work for food,” Lane said in 2011 when Ceres first filed for its IPO. “To come forward with an emphasis on sweet sorghum is a very solid niche. Sure, one of the big boys might come in later on — but maybe they come in via an acquisition.”

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