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Israel Corp.-Backed Startup Primus Green May Hold IPO Next Year

Primus Green Energy Inc., a biofuel company backed by Israel Corp., may hold an initial public offering of shares to raise cash to build a factory that turns plants into gasoline.

Hillsborough, New Jersey-based Primus may go public next year, “depending on the markets and depending on our strategic investors,” George Boyajian, the company’s vice president of business development, said in a phone interview. Primus is seeking to raise as much as $100 million this year from equity investors to build a facility that would make 4.8 million gallons of fuel annually.

IC Green Energy Ltd., the renewable energy arm of Tel Aviv-based holding company Israel Corp., has invested $40 million in Primus and may inject as much as $30 million more, Boyajian said. Israel Corp. also backs Better Place LLC, a U.S. startup developing charging stations for electric cars.

Primus uses pellets of woody plant material and natural gas to produce 93-octane gasoline that can be solid profitably as long as oil costs more than about $60 a barrel, Boyajian said.

“We have just raised our heads above water and waved and said we’re here,” said Boyajian, 50, who is a University of Chicago-educated geologist. Strategic investors, including “household names” in the energy and chemicals industries have examined Primus’ business, he said.

Boyajian declined to name companies that may invest in Primus or to discuss the company’s valuation. Primus has a pilot plant in a warehouse in Hillsborough and has broken ground on a 20,000 square-foot demonstration facility. It plans to start building the commercial plant from March next year, Boyajian said.

Not an Operator

Primus wants to license its technology to large oil companies, which would then build plants costing about $500 million that produce about 77 million gallons of fuel a year.

The U.S. consumed about 378 million gallons a day of motor gasoline in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“We don’t expect to be owning and operating all of those plants,” Boyajian said. “We are not in the business of becoming a fuel company.”

Yom-Tov Samia, a major general who served 29 years in Israel’s armed forces, is chairman of Primus, and is president and chief executive officer of IC Green Energy.

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