Acquisition involves stevia and fermentation

by Jeff Gelski
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REINACH, SWITZERLAND — Evolva Holding S.A. plans to acquire Abunda Nutrition, Inc. in a move designed in part to have a cost-effective benefit on stevia sweetener production.

Reinach-based Evolva Holding S.A. and San Francisco-based Abunda, a venture capital-backed company, have collaborated on the development of Abunda’s nutritional ingredients since 2009. As part of the collaboration, the two companies have used Evolva’s proprietary technology to make components of the high-intensity sweetener stevia via fermentation in yeast. The process bypasses the logistics associated with the traditional cultivation, processing and refining of stevia plants, according to the two companies.

“For food and beverage manufacturers, the availability of pure, fermentation-derived stevia components and the ability to customize their blending should represent a leap forward in terms of the sweetener’s taste and economic attractiveness,” said Stuart Strathdee, a board member of Abunda Nutrition.

Under terms of the proposed merger, Evolva will acquire 100% of the share capital of Abunda in return for 25 million Evolva shares. The boards of both companies and the shareholders of Abunda have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in either the second quarter or the third quarter of 2011.

“We are excited by the commercial potential of the stevia products we are developing together with Abunda and believe they create significant additional partnering opportunities for Evolva,” said Neil Goldsmith, chief executive officer for Evolva. “We intend to commercialize stevia following our established business-to-business model and expect to actively enter collaborations with companies regarding manufacturing scale-up and commercialization.

“We believe products containing pure, fermentation-derived stevia components should be widely available in the next few years and that these will deliver winning combinations of health, taste and value to consumers around the world.”

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