Aiming for Chartbuster, Germany’s BASF Acquires San Diego’s Verenium

9/24/13Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego-based Verenium (Nasdaq: VRNM), created in 2007 with the merger of Cambridge, MA-based Celunol and San Diego-based Diversa, had all the makings of a country-western song.

Diversa was a rambler, and gathered enzymes from the farthest corners of the world. Celunol was an Ivy League moonshiner. They got married—changed their name to Verenium—but times was hard and the marriage didn’t take. The part that was Celunol ran off with BP to make ethanol in Florida. (That didn’t take neither.) Carrying a woeful debt, Verenium came home to San Diego to start anew. Sold off some heirlooms from its enzyme library to pay down the debt. Last week, little Verenium said it had agreed to a buyout offer from Germany’s BASF, the largest chemical company in the world.

Know any words that rhyme with BASF?

There’s even a bit of discord in the harmony. At least eight law firms have announced that they are investigating the deal on behalf of shareholders, presumably to argue that Verenium’s board failed to get a better deal.

BASF offered $4 a share, which works out to more than $51 million based on nearly 12.8 million current Verenium shares outstanding—a total for the deal that was carried in numerous press reports over the weekend. In its statement, however, BASF said the total transaction amounted to roughly $62 million including debt.

Asked to clarify, BASF spokesman John Schmidt wrote … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • Jerry Jeff

    Interesting. I wonder which of their enzymes BASF is most interested in.