Local ShoppingConsumer product maker Amyris files for bankruptcy, lays off another 260 workers

Consumer product maker Amyris files for bankruptcy, lays off another 260 workers

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Dive Brief:

  • Synthetic biotechnology company Amyris is selling off its stable of consumer product brands as part of a restructuring process within bankruptcy, according to a press release, Securities and Exchange Commission filings and documents from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

  • The company filed for Chapter 11 on Wednesday, listing between $500 million and $1 billion in assets and between $1 billion and $10 billion in liabilities. Existing lender Foris Ventures is providing $190 million of debtor-in-possession financing to support continued day-to-day operations in the meantime.

  • On Monday Amyris told the SEC it would lay off about 260 employees, effective the following day. Noting its layoffs of about 148 employees in June, the company said its workforce has been cut about 30%, “to maintain an organization of approximately 1,090 employees to continue operations in connection with the Chapter 11 Cases.”

Dive Insight:

Amyris launched about 20 years ago in order to develop a stable treatment for malaria. More recently, the company has increasingly focused on consumer products, touting synthetic ingredients designed to provide skin care, hair care and other benefits without the need for parabens, allergens or other unwanted components.

Its Biossance beauty care brand was introducted in 2015, followed by several other launches, some aimed at certain customer segments or helmed by celebrities. For example, the company launched its Pipette baby care line in 2019, acquired personal care products brand Olika in 2021 and acquired menopause-focused wellness line MenoLabs in 2022.

Tie-ups include JVN, a haircare line from “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness, launched two years ago; Rose Inc., a beauty brand from former Victoria’s Secret angel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, also from 2021; actor Naomi Watts’ menopause wellness brand Stripes, launched last year; and 4U by Tia, a clean haircare line from actor Tia Mowry launched exclusively at Walmart earlier this year.

Although the company hopes to find new owners for these brands and others remaining in its stable, the plan is that they will “continue to leverage Amyris’ cutting-edge science and technology while under new ownership,” the company said in its release.

The company discontinued four brands — Terasana skincare,  the Gen-Z- focused EcoFabulous beauty line, Costa Brazil luxury skincare and Olika clean wellness — ahead of its Chapter 11 filing, per court documents.

“Our aspiration to become the most efficient and productive biotechnology company in our industry has not changed,” Interim CEO and Chief Financial Officer Han Kieftenbeld said in a statement. “We remain incredibly excited about Amyris’ long-term potential and our uniquely talented team’s proven ability to deliver on the promise of synthetic biology and continue to make a lasting impact. At the end of this restructuring process, we believe that Amyris will emerge as a financially stronger company with a more focused business model and well-defined path to profitability. In turn, we will be poised to grow sustainably alongside our valued partners and make an even greater impact on our world through clean chemistry.”

Kieftenbeld took on chief executive duties when CEO John Melo left in June. This week, the company appointed Philip Gund, senior managing director at Ankura Consulting Group, to be chief restructuring officer, per court documents. Also this week, Amyris told the SEC that it anticipates being delisted from Nasdaq because it won’t appeal an expected delisting notice arising from its Chapter 11 case.

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