* Sells loss-making unit to focus on core organic food ops
* Says new entity to produce biofuel from non-food waste
* Says to own 18 pct of new entity, Mascoma to own 73 pct
* Shares up 5 pct
(Recasts; adds analyst comments, background, details)
By Gowri Jayakumar
BANGALORE, Sept 1 Canada's SunOpta Inc (SOY.TO)
(STKL.O) said on Wednesday it sold its loss-making cellulosic
ethanol producing unit to U.S. biofuels company Mascoma Corp
for $51 million to focus on its core natural and organic foods
The sale of the SunOpta BioProcess unit, which has been
posting losses since 2007 and contributed less than a percent
to SunOpta's revenue last fiscal, comes less than four months
after it sold another non-core business.
"It (BioProcess) is a non-core business for SunOpta, and
has been a drag on earnings," said Northland Capital Markets
analyst Chris Krueger, who valued the unit at $19 million.
SunOpta had won a ruling in February, allowing it to sell
the unit after Abengoa Bioenergy, a unit of Spain's Abengoa
(ABG.MC), forfeited its exclusive rights to use a jointly
developed method to produce cellulosic ethanol by not buying
the required number of systems as per their agreement.
In May, SunOpta agreed to sell its Canadian food
distribution assets to United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI.O) for
C$68 million in cash. [ID:nSGE64A0IM]
The BioProcess unit, which provides equipment and
processing technologies, will, along with Mascoma, produce
transportation fuels from non-food biomass to the burgeoning
North American biofuel industry.
Mascoma will own about 73 percent of the new company,
called Mascoma Canada, while SunOpta will own about 18 percent
and the rest will be owned by the BioProcess unit.
Brampton, Ontario-based SunOpta said the combined entity
will operate in both the United States and Canada, with an
extensive intellectual property position in the cellulosic
The deal has got all necessary corporate approvals and
SunOpta's Chairman Jeremy Kendall will join Mascoma's board of
directors, Mascoma said in a statement.
Shares of SunOpta -- which also operates SunOpta Food Group
and Opta Minerals Inc OPM.TO -- have gained about 11 percent
in the last three months. They were up 5 percent at C$5.87 in
midday trading Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Gowri Jayakumar in Bangalore; Editing by Maju