The origins of Amyris date back to 2003 when the US biotech pioneer received a US$42 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an anti-malarial molecule. But the company is best-known in the beauty industry for its flagship ingredient squalane – a 100% plant-derived super-moisturiser and antioxidant – used by some of the world’s leading brands in more than 20,000 skincare, haircare and makeup products. Last year, Amyris’ cult skincare brand Biossance inaugurated International Squalane Day on October 14th to celebrate the hero emollient.

Biossance, launched in 2015, was Amyris’ first foray into the beauty market as a brand owner and since then the company has cut a swathe through the clean, sustainable beauty sector via a rapid-fire acquisition and launch strategy. Over the past few years, its portfolio of brands with a strong emphasis on celebrity links has expanded to include Costa Brazil, JVN haircare with Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness, supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Rose Inc, Stripes with Naomi Watts, Sister, Sister‘s Tia Mowry’s 4U by Tia, Olika hand sanitiser and more. Last year, more than 65 per cent of Amyris’ business was centred on its consumer brands.

Last week, Amyris voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Among the company’s strategies is the selling off of its consumer brands as part of the wider restructuring process to improve its liquidity position. A plan that will allow Amyris to focus on its core strengths of R&D and development of further sustainable molecules and applications.

In June, John Melo, president and CEO of Amyris, resigned after 16 years with the company in various positions. Han Kieftenbeld, who took on the role of CFO in 2020, was appointed as Interim CEO.

Amyris’ debt totals US$1.3 billion. Foris Ventures, an existing lender, will provide US$190 million of debtor-in-possession financing to continue day-to-day operations. Amyis will continue to operate its brands including through retail partners and the brands’ e-commerce platforms during the sale process.

In April, Givaudan, the world’s largest flavour and fragrance company, acquired a stable of ingredients from Amyris, including squalane, hemisqualane and CleanScreen, a sun protection active. Under the longterm agreement, Amyris would continue to manufacture the ingredients and provide Givaudan with access to its innovation capabilities. In 2016, Givaudan re-branded its cosmetics business as Active Beauty and has been very pro-active in the biotech beauty arena, launching RetiLife, a first-to-market natural origin retinol, earlier this year to add to its award-winning roster of active ingredients including Gravityl, Ceramide II, BlurHD, Brightenyl and Hyalusphere.

“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 Han Kieftenbeld. “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. At the end of this restructuring process, we believe that Amyris will emerge as a financially stronger company with a more focused model and well-defined path to profitability”.

In Australia, JVN and Biossance are available from Sephora and Rose Inc and Costa Brazil are shoppable at Mecca.

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