Why Amyris is the latest beauty casualty

Prior to the pandemic, Amyris was predominantly focused on supplying ingredients to other companies. But, by 2021, a majority of its business was devoted to consumer brands. In February this year, Amyris’s squalane alternative was sold to Swiss manufacturer Givaudan for $200 million in upfront cash and $150 million in a performance-based earnout, along with a long-term manufacturing agreement that valued the total transaction at an estimated $500 million.

In April, Amyris opened a new headquarters in London and sought to bring its approach of using famous faces to help highlight its clean sourcing methods to a more global audience. “[We] do not believe in simply putting a name to a brand. Instead we work on establishing strong, collaborative partnerships based on a mutual passion for sustainability, science and what appeals to their audience,” Amyris president Lee Tappenden told Vogue Business at the time.

By June, the company announced it was cutting jobs to reduce costs and appointed Han Kieftenbeld as new interim CEO, following the resignation of longtime executive John Melo. The firm also said it would look for ways to streamline its portfolio, with a planned cost-reduction target of $250 million.

“Over the past months, we have been hard at work on a strategic transformation plan to reduce costs, improve operational effectiveness and achieve sustainable growth,” said Kieftenbeld, who is also CFO, in a statement announcing the Chapter 11 filing. “We believe the step forward our company has taken today puts us on the best path to address our financial challenges and achieve a comprehensive solution — rooted in Amyris’s ground-breaking science, formulation capabilities and technology.”

“Our aspiration to become the most efficient and productive biotechnology company in our industry has not changed,” he added. “At the end of this restructuring process, we believe that Amyris will emerge as a financially stronger company with a more focused business model and well-defined path to profitability. In turn, we will be poised to grow sustainably alongside our valued partners and make an even greater impact on our world through clean chemistry.”

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