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Ethanol Evangelist Shrugs Off Volatility to Build Powerhouse


Todd Becker couldn’t stop checking prices on his iPhone as he prepared to speak at a Nov. 21 investor conference in Manhattan. Ethanol was rising, and corn was falling, he says, driving potential profits on the gasoline additive to one of their highest levels in six years.

Becker, chief executive officer of Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc., says he didn’t want to wait for a bank loan, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its March issue. Instead, he ordered deputies to wire a third of the company’s cash -- $108 million -- and buy two ethanol plants, in Nebraska and Minnesota, from creditors of Denver-based BioFuel Energy Corp. He says he worried that if he didn’t jump, rival Valero Energy Corp. in San Antonio would snatch the properties, robbing him of a chance to expand annual production by almost a third to 1 billion gallons.