Los Angeles Business Journal

Ceres Delays IPO

By Deborah Crowe Friday, February 10, 2012

Agricultural biotech Ceres Inc., which had planned to raise up to $85 million in an initial public offering this week, has decided to wait until next week according to an industry website.

The Thousand Oaks company had been expected to sell shares and start trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday. Biofuels Digest reports that Ceres now will delay pricing the IPO for at least a week, but did not cite sources. The company itself did not provide an explanation, and has not made a regulatory filing since Wednesday.

In its Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ceres reduced the estimated price of the 5 million shares to a range of $16 to $17 each. Ceres, which is developing seeds for crops used to make biofuels, earlier expected to price shares at $21 to $23 and net about $98 million. Market volatility may have played a role, as other tech companies also have delayed or tempered expectations on their offerings.

Based on the mid-range price, the Thousand Oaks company could receive net proceeds of about $72 million but raise as much as $85 million if all overallotment options are exercised by underwriters. The company would have about 23.9 million shares outstanding following the offering, most held by early investors and insiders.

Venture backers of the company, founded in 1997, include Artal Luxembourg, Oxford Bioscience and Monsanto Corp. Ceres plans to use IPO proceeds to develop and commercialize crop seeds. Ceres is in the process of marketing high-biomass sorghum seeds in the United States and sweet sorghum seeds in Brazil.

Shares are expected to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol CERE.