Biodiesel firm Imperium Renewables files for IPO

Imperium Renewables, looking to ramp up production in the hot biofuels area, plans to raise $345 million in its initial public offering.

Looking to cash in on a biofuel investment boom, Biodiesel producer Imperium Renewables on Wednesday filed plans to go public and raise $345 million.

Imperium Renewables makes biodiesel from different crops, including canola, soybean and palm oil. It can replace or be blended with petroleum-based diesel.

The company has already raised $214 million in financing , one of the highest capitalizations for a U.S. biodiesel company.

With the proceeds of the planned public offering, Imperium intends to construct three new production facilities and complete its Grays Harbor biodiesel plant in Washington state, the company said in its S-1 filing. The Grays Harbor plant is projected to produce 100 million gallons of biodiesel a year, which would make it the largest such facility in the U.S.

The company, headed by former Microsoft executive Martin Tobias, said that its strategy is to become the largest biodiesel producer in the U.S. this year, it said in its filing.

According to its financial disclosure, the company is not profitable, having posted a net loss of $5.4 million on sales of nearly $5 million in 2006.

The rising interest among policy makers to develop an industry around plant-based fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, has attracted billions of dollars in spending . Two ethanol producers--VeraSun Energy and Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings--went public last year and other ethanol companies have filed to go public this year.

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