US algae-based firm TerraVia Holding Inc, formerly known as Solazyme, voluntarily filed for bankruptcy on 2 August and has entered into a “stalking horse” agreement for Corbion NV to buy its stock and assets.

Corbion has offered a cash purchase price of approximately US$20M and will assume the ongoing financial obligations of TerraVia and its joint venture ownership.

As Solzayme, TerraVia developed proprietary algae-based sugar-to-oil technology targeting food, nutrition and speciality ingredients, as well as biofuels and chemicals.

In March 2016, Solazyme rebranded itself as TerraVia and redefined its focus on the food, nutrition and personal care industries. Its brands included the capric, lauric and oleic-based speciality personal care oils under the AlgaPur range. In the foods sector, it also developed its AlgaWise Omega-9 algae oil, thrive Culinary Algal Oil and AlgaWise algae butter.

TerraVia has also produced an algae-based docosahexaenoic (DHA) ingredient that can replace fish oil in aqua feed – AlgaPrime DHA – which it launched in partnership with Bunge in May 2016. TerraVia owns 50.1% of the joint venture.

Corbion said acquiring TerraVia’s microalgae platform would extend its product portfolio in algae-based fatty acids and proteins, while leveraging its fermentation and downstream processing capabilities. The Amsterdam-based company develops biobased ingredients in the food and biochemical markets and is currently involved in several projects, including a joint venture with Total for biobased polylactic acid bioplastic (PLA) and a joint venture with BASF for biobased succinic acid.

As a stalking horse agreement, the Corbion offer is subject to the receipt of any higher offers from other potential bidders as part of the auction process under Section 363 of the US Bankruptcy Code.

TerraVia said it expected a sale to be completed within 60 to 90 days.

According to Biomass Magazine, TerraVia currently operates a research and development centre in San Francisco and two manufacturing facilities, including a wholly owned facility in Peoria, Illinois, and a facility in Brazil where it produces AlgaPrime DHA.