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Imperium's plant in Grays Harbor
Imperium’s plant in Grays Harbor

Seattle-based Imperium Renewables once filed for an IPO with dreams of becoming the leading producer of biodiesel in the country. But as the door closes on those hopes, it looks like the company will have to settle with being gobbled up by one of the largest producers instead.

Industry giant Renewable Energy Group announced on Friday it has reached a deal to acquire Imperium. An REG spokesman told GeekWire on Tuesday that the company plans to keep Imperium’s facilities up and running — namely, its massive 100-million-gallon biorefinery in Grays Harbor County. Imperium’s staff will be staying on as well.

The deal is worth $16.75 million in cash and 1.5 million shares of REG stock, which is worth about another $15 million right now. Imperium will also be paid 5 cents for every gallon of diesel its facility produces for the next 2 years.

It represents a lackluster end to a local company once at the top of its game and heralded as a leader in clean technology.

Martin Tobias
Martin Tobias

Imperium was founded in 2004 and raised about $155 million as CEO Martin Tobias worked to rapidly grow the business through the early years. It even built the Grays Harbor facility, which is still one of the largest of its kind.

In 2007 the company filed for a $345 million IPO, but it would never see its day on Wall Street. The company got caught in the economic downturn, pulled back the IPO, cut staff and had to shutdown production. Tobias left the company in December 2007.

There were glimmers of hope for the company in 2011, when it was exporting canola-based biodiesel to Canada and Oregon. But it didn’t turn out to be enough.

With the acquisition, Imperium will become a part of REG’s network of 11 refineries spread across the country.

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