Dutch food ingredients and biotech company Corbion is discussing acquiring full ownership of SB Renewable Oils, the company’s South American algal products joint venture with Bunge.

SB Renewable Oils – in which Corbion and Bunge held shares of 50.1% and 49.9%, respectively – operated in Brazil and specialised in the production of algae ingredients for aquaculture and animal feed, including an omega 3 rich algal oil, Corbion said in a statement on 14 February.

However, the company urged caution, saying that “while the discussions are constructive, it is uncertain if and when they will lead to an agreement”.

In late 2017, Corbion emerged as a likely winner of the bankruptcy auction for TerraVia, another Brazil-based company that produced the algae-based aquaculture feed AlgaPrime at the SB Renewable Oils plant, reported Undercurrent News on 16 February.

Bunge said the possible sale of its stake in SB Renewable Oils was part of its strategic plan to recover from the losses the company reported in its end-of-the-year update for 2017.

For the year ended on 31 December 2017, Bunge reported earnings of US$160M, down from US$745M in the previous year.

Soren Schroder, CEO and director of Bunge, said the outcome of its investment in SB Renewable Oils had been different from what the company envisioned.

“Initially, it was focused on developing specialty oils, tropical oil equivalents through algae. That turned out to be not necessarily the best path. The cost point was too high and the company developed or evolved into a specialty feed business, which is interesting and making good progress and has successes, but it’s not core to Bunge,” Schroder said.