Merisant pushes ahead with PureVia plans

by Jeff Gelski
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CHICAGO — Merisant Worldwide, Inc. will continue to invest in its new zero-calorie sweetener PureVia despite filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Jan. 9 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware. Chicago-based Merisant Worldwide said it had between 50 to 99 creditors. As of Nov. 30, 2008, Merisant Worldwide had assets of about $331.1 million and total debts of about $560.7 million.

Restructuring will help Merisant reduce debt, which will free up resources to invest in PureVia, according to the company.

"Through this balance sheet restructuring, we anticipate converting a significant amount of our debt to equity, which will be positive for Merisant, our customers and employees," Paul Block, chief executive officer of Merisant Worldwide, said in a statement. "The restructuring will free up more cash to invest in our business and support PureVia, our exciting all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener, which we launched last month with PepsiCo and which was the first stevia extract to receive Generally Regarded As Safe, or GRAS, status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration."

PureVia features Rebaudioside A extracted from the stevia plant. The F.D.A. in December said it had no objections to scientific studies showing Rebaudioside A was Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use as a sweetener in certain foods and beverages.

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