Merica Acquires Majority Stake in Choren

Today it was announced that my new company, Merica International, has acquired Shell’s stake in Choren Industries. This is something we have been actively pursuing for some time. This transaction gives Merica a great deal more flexibility than we had previously.

The primary reason for the acquisition is that it gives us freedom to pursue the projects we want to pursue. While I have the greatest respect for Shell, our interests obviously would not always align with theirs. We are first and foremost a bioenergy company, and that is not their core business.

Further, if Choren wanted to make any major capital expenditures, it hinged on getting Shell’s agreement. As Shell is in a major cost-cutting mode, a lot of the projects we want to pursue could have been potentially impacted. Shell Fischer-Tropsch technology will still be used in Choren’s Freiberg BTL facility, but future decision-making will be simplified.

Here are excerpts of the story from Reuters:

Shell sells stake in German biofuel firm Choren

HAMBURG, Nov 5 (Reuters) – Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has sold its shareholding in German second-generation biofuels company Choren, Choren said on Thursday.

Choren is building Germany’s first biofuels plant using new generations of non-food raw materials as feedstock and is likely to start initial commercial production in 2010.

Shell had sold its minority shareholding to other shareholders which comprise German vehicles groups Volkswagen and Daimler plus a consortium of investors largely from the Hamburg region, Choren said in a statement.

Merica is within that “consortium of investors”, and is in fact the majority shareholder of the company now.

16 thoughts on “Merica Acquires Majority Stake in Choren”

  1. Ahem, Somebody, I can't remember who (maybe it'll come to me later,) 🙂 took great exception when I said I wasn't too keen on Iogen because I felt Shell was kind of dragging their feet.

    Oh my, Oh my. Who was that, again?

  2. You are going to have to be a lot more specific than that. I don't recall the details of that particular conversation, but it should still be there for you to point out to me. You have a bit of a history of remembering things out of context.


  3. Just Google "kdolliso Shell Iogen" and you will find it there. As I suspected, your context has gotten mixed up. I took exception because you kept claiming Shell had a controlling interest in Iogen, and that Shell was "corrupting" them.

    Regarding Iogen, I am on record as stating that I think thermochemical processes will win out over biochemical processes. But I wish the best of luck to those who are trying both approaches.


  4. Don't have to. You did it for us. I said that Shell controlled the money. Right?

    Anyway, Congratulations on the purchase. I wish you well.

  5. I'm curious about the name, "Merica International" It sounds a bit like trying to mention America and yet be international too, which seems weird. If it were a European company, I might think "Merica" evokes a Rich Ocean, which would be more appropriate for an ocean-energy company than for a wood-to-biofuel company. The internet tells me that "merica" is Indonesian for "pepper" deriving from Sanskrit. Does the name mean anything?

  6. It sounds a bit like trying to mention America and yet be international too, which seems weird.

    That's funny, because we were having this exact conversation at work lat week.

    The Merica story is funny. It had been the holding company used by the family behind all of this. The origin is actually German, but I don't know that it has any specific meaning. It wasn't intended that this would be the name we would roll out. We kicked around all kinds of names, but ultimately all of the legal infrastructure was already there for Merica, so we ended up with it sort of by default as the parent sitting on top of all of the other companies.

    I liked Advanced Conversion Technologies. But that didn't really encompass the entire integrated platform.

    Cheers, RR

  7. Congratulations Robert. I know you've always liked Choren. I'm wondering why Shell would sell out at this point though. Are they giving up on the process and putting all their eggs in the algae basket?

  8. I'm wondering why Shell would sell out at this point though.

    I don't want to give up anything that isn't public (or soon to be), but again, this is something we pushed for. We would have liked to have done this earlier, but Shell is now in a major cost-reduction mode. The time was right.


  9. Congratulations. I suspect you are smiling from ear to ear about this news.

    Speaking of news: Any news where Choren is right now? How profitable is the beta plant? Is it too small to be profitable? Or perhaps, at what oil price is it profitable? How large is the area from which it draws its feedstock? Primary feedstock = woodchips, right?

    Not that I'm expecting you to give away the trade secrets or anything…

  10. now, what does this mean to all players- big oil, big auto,choren mgt, merica? how will the action/intent/potential outcomes change? with what impact? perhaps you could use your previous articles about Choren as a starting point– lead us from what was conveyed/intent then to now and future.

    that would be educational and helpful.


  11. This may be off topic — but maybe not so far off. The whole idea of building "sustainable" "renewable" alternative energy on the basis of politically-driven subsidies may not be so sustainable. What politicians give, politicians can take away.

    Tax subsidy grubbers are planning yet another wind factory in Texas — this time using the Stimulus funds, on which US citizens's grandchildren will still be paying interest. Interesting thing is that the economy being stimulated is … China's!

    Even the US Political Class is having problems with this. And when they get annoyed, the subsidies can go away in a hurry.

    The take-away message for alternate energy — to be sustainable, you have to beat fossils without political subsidies.

    "The purpose of the Recovery Act was to jump-start the economy to create and save jobs—American jobs," Mr. Schumer wrote in his letter to Dr. Chu. Mr. Schumer added that he fears most of the jobs created by the project will be in China. "American taxpayer dollars should not be used to finance those Chinese jobs," he wrote. …

    … The U.S. Renewable Energy Group, a private-equity firm involved in the 600-megawatt Texas project, said last week that the partnership would seek tax credits and support from the federal stimulus package. The company said the project should create 300 U.S. construction jobs and 30 permanent maintenance jobs. The project also would support 800 jobs in China at a new factory built by Shenyang Power."

  12. Since Clee brought it up and you responded, I think Merica is not a great name, it made me think of Merican.

    When I first saw the name, I thought, what the "heck" is that supposed to mean. Because Merican is usually used as a derogatory term used by certain left wing types to describe other Americans who they disagree with.

    In some cases Merican is used to describe stereotypical idiots who follow the mindless vapid American culture. People who don't know who the vice president is, but know every detail of Hulk Hogan's or Paris Hilton's life.

    More politically it is used to describe conservative Americans. Those who are too stupid or evil to understand that the liberal or progressive viewpoint is the correct one. In this case Mericans are those who go to church, shop at Walmart, own guns, drive trucks and SUVs, hunt, live in the suburbs, watch Fox news, vote republican, etc. This is twisted to mean they are racist, homophobic, war-mongers, polluters (AGW denialists), rednecks, etc.

    The term Merican comes from President Bush's unique pronucification. His Texas drawl mushes the A off American. There was a guy who used to post here who used the term frequently. I think his name was Evan. In fact I think you posted one of his e-mails as an essay, if I remember correctly it was incoherent nonsense which I declared as this blogs worst post ever. Also, there is a punk song called Merican.

    So there you have it, I think you should seriously consider a name change now while it is early. If you wait too long it can be difficult to change, I think that is what is holding back the good people at Siemens AG.

  13. I agree. I, also, thought immediately of "Merican." I was slightly annoyed, and puzzled. I would change it now, while the "changing is good."

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