Los Angeles Business Journal

Blackstone Unit to Invest in Rentech

By Deborah Crowe Thursday, April 10, 2014

Shares of Rentech Inc. jumped 13 percent on Thursday after the company said that a Blackstone Group unit would invest $150 million in its wood fiber business. It also announced a settlement with a dissident investor group.

Rentech, which also makes nitrogen fertilizer through a spinoff public company, said Blackstone's GSO Capital Partners LP would gain two seats on the board. Blackstone named Douglas Ostrover, a GSO co-founder, and Patrick Moore, former chief executive of Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., to Rentech's board.

To make room for the new directors, Rentech, which currently has a nine-member board, said Michael Ray and company co-founder Dennis Yakobson had resigned.

Rentech also promised one board seat to a shareholder group, led by Engaged Capital and Lone Star Value Management, to settle a dispute over the company's direction. The group had demanded that Rentech halt any capital raising plans, criticizing what it considers the company's poor track record in finance.

As part of the settlement, the three new directors will be part of a new five-member finance committee to oversee Rentech's capital spending and review executive pay.

Rentech Inc. last month agreed to sell its alternative energy technology business and equipment to a Chinese company.

“This investment by Blackstone’s GSO underscores the strength of our wood fiber business strategy," Chief Executive D. Hunt Ramsbottom said in a statement. “In addition to funding our immediate growth plans, Blackstone/GSO’s investment gives Rentech a long-term partner with a proven track record in successfully evaluating and investing in new opportunities.”

Shares closed up 24 cents, or 13 percent, to $2.05 on the Nasdaq.