home  › Business and economy

Italy’s Caserta-based biochemical company to buy world leader in levulinic acid derivatives

by Francesco Prisco

Today GFBiochemicals, a chemical company based in Caserta (Campania) and specialized in the production of “green” levulinic acid, will announce the acquisition of the American company Segetis, the first producer of levulinic acid derivatives and owner of 250 patents related to this sector.

GFBiochemicals was founded in 2008 by former AC Milan's midfielder Mathieu Flamini (now playing with Arsenal) in partnership with the Campania entrepreneur Pasquale Granata.

The two companies soon merging have similar histories and complementary businesses. Segetis was founded in 2007 and since then it has invested €100 million on research and development. Among its shareholders there are many famous names in the chemical industry and in finance like Sabic, Khosla Ventures, Pnb, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund and Dsm.

The company based in Golden Valley (Minnesota) leads the levulinic acid derivatives segment of the market. Levulinic acid is a compound used in perfumes, plasticizers used in PVC and biopolymers, in products for personal hygiene and for home or industrial cleaning, in agro-chemical products, coverings and adhesives.

GFBiochemicals is the only company of the world able to produce levulinic acid directly from biomass (corn, wood and their by-products) on industrial scale and through one productive step. Traditionally the compound was obtained from oil through five steps, with higher economical and environmental costs.

Thanks to this acquisition, the Caserta-based company (with 50 employees plus 350 in Campania working in satellite activities) by the end of 2016 will begin to produce derivatives itself. In so doing it will enter a potential market whose global value is around $30 billion.

“Our past is similar, we've already crossed paths and this partnership seems almost natural,” said Granata.

According to Granata this acquisition “marks the beginning of our strategy to grow on the market. The company will carry on its development plan based also on agreements with possible partners, and at the same time it will speed up the innovation of technologies for the production of levulinic acid derivatives.”