Kior Surges on $25 Million Khosla Financing Agreement

Kior Inc., the owner of the first commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant in the U.S., surged the most in six months after billionaire backer Vinod Khosla agreed to provide as much as $25 million in financing, making good on a commitment from last month.

Kior gained 46 percent to 84 cents at the close in New York, the most since Sept. 26.

The first tranche of $5 million is expected to close April 3, according to a filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The biofuel producer had lost 87 percent of its market value in the past year through yesterday, and in January shut down its Columbus, Mississippi, biofuel plant to upgrade the manufacturing process. The facility remains closed.

Low production volume at the Columbus plant has hindered sales. Kior said in a March 17 filing that without additional funding it would “likely” default on its debts, and the company’s only potential source of near-term financing was a $25 million commitment letter from Khosla, the company’s largest shareholder.

Under the funding deal, KFT Trust will acquire senior secured mandatorily convertible notes in Kior. Khosla and his spouse are KFT trustees and the investment is “intended to satisfy the commitment from Vinod Khosla,” according to the filing.

The $25 million may help Pasadena, Texas-based Kior fund its operations through August, Michael Ritzenthaler, an analyst with Piper Jaffray Cos., wrote in a March 18 note to investors. He rates shares the equivalent of a hold with a 12-month price target of $1.

Kior, which makes transportation fuels from wood waste and non-food crops, received $100 million from Khosla Ventures LLC and Gates Ventures LLC in October to expand production at the Columbus plant.

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