Ceres Seeks $85 Million in IPO After Reducing Price Range 26%

Ceres Inc. (CERE), a producer of seeds for crops used to make biofuels, plans to seek as much as $85 million in an initial public offering after cutting its asking price by about 26 percent.

The Thousand Oaks, California-based company is attempting to sell 5 million shares at $16 to $17 apiece after previously offering them for $21 to $23, it said in a regulatory filing. The shares, scheduled to price today, will start trading tomorrow on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol CERE.

Ceres is attempting its IPO after Renewable Energy Group Inc., the biggest U.S. biodiesel producer, reduced its offering last month. It also follows offerings by biofuel producers such as Gevo Inc. (GEVO) and Kior Inc., which have lost money for buyers since going public last year.

The top end of the reduced range would give Ceres a market value of $395.2 million, based on total expected outstanding shares of 23.2 million after the offering. The company, led by Chief Executive Officer Richard Hamilton, has posted net losses since at least 2007, according to the filing. Revenue in the three months ended Nov. 30 rose 1.9 percent to $1.75 million from a year earlier.

Ceres, which has been operating since 1997, will use the share-sale proceeds to develop and commercialize crop seeds. The company is ramping up production to challenge Monsanto Co. (MON) and DuPont Co., the two largest U.S. makers of genetically modified seeds, which it names as competitors in its filing.

Renewable Energy Group raised $72 million in its IPO last month. The shares slid 6.8 percent through yesterday. Amyris Inc., the maker of specialty chemicals and diesel fuel, sank 40 percent through yesterday following its 2010 public debut.

All of the shares in the offering are being sold by Ceres. Monsanto will have a 4.8 percent stake in the company after the sale, which is being led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Barclays Plc., the company said in the filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anjelica Tan in New York at atan224@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net; Jennifer Sondag at jsondag@bloomberg.net

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