Sime Darby Berhad is taking a stake in an industrial biotechnology company, Verdezyne Inc., as part of an initiative to pursue strategic growth areas for its plantation business. Sime Darby Renewables, a new unit under Sime Darby Plantation, will spearhead this initiative which essentially focuses on converting traditional and non-traditional palm-based commodities into products of higher value.
This initiative with Verdezyne was launched in a ceremony witnessed by Malaysian Prime Minister YAB Dato' Sri MohdNajibTun Haji Abdul Razak and United States President Barack Obama. Sime Darby Berhad was represented by Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Mohd Bakke Salleh while Verdezyne Inc. was represented by its President and CEO Dr. E. William Radany, PhD.
California-based Verdezyne has proprietary technologies to competitively produce chemicals derived from sustainable materials, which can be found in the oil palm value chain. These chemicals are used to make everyday items like clothing, footwear and adhesives, as well as industrial products such as automobile parts. Currently, these chemicals are mainly derived from petroleum-based feedstocks such as benzene and butadiene.
Verdezyne’s current products targeted for commercialisation have a potential combined market size of approximately RM37 billion with laboratory, pilot and demonstration-scale validation already carried out. Results so far have attracted favourable interest from the market.
Sime Darby plans to emerge as the single largest investor in Verdezyne, together with existing investors BP Alternative Energy, Royal DSM, a global life sciences group; OVP Venture Partners and Monitor Ventures, subject to definitive documentation. Verdezyne has healthy financial prospects and the Company secured a strategic commercial relationship with Universal Fiber Systems, LLC to supply its bio-based adipic acid for certain exclusive fields of use. Universal Fiber Systems is a global multi-polymer fiber producer, and markets its yarn systems globally with operations in North America, Europe and Asia. Verdezyne is also actively pursuing other commercial opportunities with a diverse group of international chemical companies.
“Sime Darby is taking strategically measured steps to build and nurture a sustainable portfolio of palm-related industrial biotechnology companies. There are exciting opportunities which can leverage on our substantial plantation assets and we are keen to capitalise these for future growth,” said Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Mohd Bakke Salleh, President and Group Chief Executive, Sime Darby Berhad.
Verdezyne began operations in 2005 and has chosen Malaysia as its manufacturing hub which motivated them to obtain the BioNexus status in September 2013. Its first own commercial plant, with an annual capacity in excess of 13,000 metric tons, is expected to generate approximately 140 knowledge workers in the fields of R&D and engineering.
“Over the past year, with the invaluable assistance of the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation, Verdezyne’s management team researched the oil palm industry extensively. We believe that Sime Darby, with its commitment to sustainability, is the perfect partner to help lead the revolution in renewable products in the US, Malaysia and beyond,” said Verdezyne President and CEO Dr. E. William Radany.
“We are proud that Sime Darby plans to acquire a significant stake in Verdezyne. We hope more local corporations will seek out and bring cutting edge technology to Malaysia. This investment will ultimately create a high technology platform for Malaysia and bring huge benefits to the Malaysian bioeconomy sector. It will also have a positive impact on the income and welfare of the people and the bio-based industry,” said Dato' Dr. MohdNazlee Kamal, BiotechCorp’s Chief Executive Officer.
Sime Darby’s investment in Verdezyne would also be expected to accelerate technology development in the US and create various job opportunities in Southern California. Furthermore, Verdezyne is able to receive multiple feedstocks, which would benefit the US vegetable oil market.
“Sime Darby Renewables will be a new chapter in Sime Darby Plantation’s sustainable evolution. It will not only build a portfolio of palm-related industrial biotechnology companies but also strategically integrate these with our business activities. Our competitive edge is the availability of sustainable palm-based feedstocks in our plantation value chain,” said Datuk Franki Anthony Dass, Managing Director, Sime Darby Plantation.
About Sime Darby Plantation
Sime Darby Plantation is one of the world’s largest listed palm oil producers, producing about 5% of the global crude palm oil (CPO) output. It is also the world's largest producer of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). It operates oil palm plantations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Liberia, and is one of the co-founders of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a multi stakeholder grouping that oversees the industry. Sime Darby Plantation also has downstream operations across the globe, producing oils and fats products for various industries, as well as oleo-chemicals and palm oil-based bio-diesel. Alongside oil palm, the Company is also involved in agri-business activities and the cultivation of rubber. It is also present in the consumer goods sector, producing cooking oil and fruit juices, among others.
About Verdezyne Inc.
Verdezyne is an industrial biotechnology company that is leveraging the power of biology to produce chemicals from renewable, non-food sources. It has developed technologies and is commercializing processes that create a positive impact on the environment by replacing important consumer products with sustainable alternatives, at a lower cost.
Verdezyne has assembled a team of top scientists from the biotechnology and chemicals industries who have, in a few short years, developed the company’s flagship products from concept through pilot demonstration. Its proprietary technologies use fermentation followed by unique separation techniques.
The yeast used in Verdezyne’s process is specifically designed to produce chemicals used in everyday products that have large and growing markets. It is their mission to bring to the world sustainable and cost-effective alternatives to petrochemicals.