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Sale of INEOS plant expected to close in summer


West Palm Beach-based Alliance BioEnergy is proceeding with plans to purchase and convert the former INEOS plant to its own technique of turning yard waste into ethanol.

Alliance CEO Daniel de Liege said that by establishing a relationship with county solid waste officials and securing an option on the yard waste or “feedstock” Alliance needs to fuel its patented process, the company positioned itself as the only one that can get the facility up and running and employing local workers again. De Liege said he met with property owner Arbor One Bank and the broker tasked with handling the transaction in late April and that everything is on-track for a closing this summer.

“The process is really different than a typical real estate transaction, [but] we knew that going in,” de Liege said, referring to the involvement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture which backed INEOS in getting the mortgage that the bank now holds. The bank and broker “are working with us very closely and very graciously at this point.”

A small company like Alliance taking over an ethanol facility is not the standard way these deals work, de Liege said. “They like the big guys, the companies with a bundle of cash to put into an offer, but in this case, the Shells and the BPs are not interested in this facility.”

Alliance upped its bid for the plant and property twice to dissuade competing bidders. Now the company is in the process of raising cash to close the deal by offering $10 million in preferred stock to brokers and investors. That offering closes on May 22, after which Alliance will put all the cash for the closing into escrow. De Liege said he should have a concrete answer from the bank and the Department of Agriculture a couple weeks after that. The sale could close 30 to 60 days later, or by the end of the summer.

Once the cash is raised to purchase the plant, de Liege said Alliance will enter the second phase of raising funds – $20 million to convert the plant, hire employees, pay overhead, begin production and continue research and development of applications for the bioethanol produced.

That round will be accomplished via a Regulation A Plus offering on the New York Stock Exchange. “People keep contacting us asking what they can do to help make this happen. So in a few months, probably by August, thanks to this special Reg A Plus program for small companies, individuals will be able to go online and buy one share of stock if they want, on the New York Stock Exchange.”

Parallel with raising funds, Alliance has been busy getting ready to convert the plant. De Liege said the company’s engineers have already built the reactor that will break down the feedstock and, with the Kaolinite clay as a catalyst, turn it into the simple sugar needed for the ethanol fermentation process.

The equipment used to mechanically pound the green material to a pulp has been repurposed from the coal mining industry. “We built it up in Chattanooga, Tennessee and it’s ready to move down to Florida and install in the plant,” de Liege said.

Alliance never had any interest in the INEOS patented ethanol production process, which was sold to a Chinese corporation prior to Alliance’s bid on the physical plant. Unlike the highly secretive process used by INEOS scientists before the plant was shuttered, Alliance BioEnergy has promised full transparency, and to cooperate with county solid waste officials to file reports for recycling credit on the yard waste used by the plant.

De Liege said the technique Alliance will use at the former INEOS plant will have no waste products emitted through the smoke stacks and nothing to be deposited into the deep-injection well on the property. He told the Indian River Board of County Commissioners several months ago that everything used in the mechanical process is safe enough to eat.