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Avantium has retaken full ownership of its YXY plants-to-plastics technology through the purchase of BASF’s shares in the Synvina joint venture. Avantium has appointed Marcel Lubben (Reverdia) as Managing Director of Synvina to lead the commercialization of the YXY technology, effective 1 February 2019.
Editorial office / Amsterdam

Avantium has paid BASF € 13.7 million for its equity stake in Synvina and an additional € 3.7 million for full ownership of the assets acquired by Synvina in the last two years. Plans to build a € 300 million plant on the BASF site in Antwerp are hereby cancelled. Avantium wants to establish a new, possibly smaller factory elsewhere and is looking for partners for this, but will remain in full control this time.

Furthermore, Avantium is considering focusing on a smaller, higher-quality market segment than soda bottles. ‘For example film layers for electronics and medical applications,’ says Avantium CEO Tom van Aken in an interview with the Dutch newspaper FD. He also says he is relieved that the agreement with the ‘conservative and risk-averse’ chemical giant BASF has been dissolved. According to Van Aken, BASF was stepping on the brakes too often.

New Managing Director

Experienced chemicals and biotech executive Marcel Lubben is appointed Managing Director of Synvina and will join Victor Vreeken (Chief Operations Officer) and Willem-Jan Meijer (Financial Director) in Synvina’s leadership team. Lubben worked for 25 years at DSM in various senior business roles, in licensing, corporate venture capital and technology. In his last role, he was president of Reverdia, a joint venture between DSM and Roquette for the production and sale of bio-based succinic acid.

‘I have been following the progress on YXY for several years and am impressed by how it has been built out to a platform for unique materials with significant performance benefits’, says Marcel Lubben. ‘I am delighted to assume leadership of this Avantium business unit and bring this important technology to market.’

New strategy

Avantium plans to make further announcements on its new strategy to commercialize YXY during the first half of 2019.

The YXY technology was developed to catalytically convert plant-based sugars into FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid) and materials such as the new plant-based packaging material PEF (polyethylenefuranoate). PEF can fulfil the demand of leading brands and consumers for next-generation materials that are environmentally friendly and recyclable, and has the potential to be a game changer in the circular economy.

Tom van Aken says: ‘Our belief in YXY and its market potential is rock-solid. Producing FDCA and PEF is a complex innovation process that requires a completely new value chain. I am convinced that the work done so far and the value chain we have built will spur the commercialization of PEF.’