Aventine emerges from bankruptcy

By Luke Geiver | March 16, 2010
Posted March 19, 2010

Good news for ethanol plants in Aurora, Neb. and Mt. Vernon, Ind. that were near completion before construction ceased in 2009. Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc., has announced its successful emergence from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganization process. Included with the announcement, Aventine said it would resume construction at both plants.

Over a year ago in February of 2009, Aventine filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Delaware due to unfavorable markets, driven down by high corn prices and low petroleum costs. "The markets turned on us," said Bill Brennan, chief accounting and compliance officer for Aventine.

After filing, Aventine was able to secure debtor-in-possession financing which allowed the company to maintain operations at its Pekin, Ill. facility. "Emerging from bankruptcy with good liquidity, modest debt and lower overhead costs, Aventine is positioned to be one of the low cost providers of ethanol on a national basis," said Thomas Manuel, new CEO and COO for the company. "I am very optimistic about the ethanol industry and our success going forward."

Manuel, a former senior executive with ConAgra Foods, was one of many new hires during the restructuring process that formed a new board of directors. The new board represents a key piece for Aventine's future success according to Manuel. "The ethanol industry has sound long-term prospects, and we anticipate a strong rebound as the biofuels mandate continues to increase," he said. "Aventine will emerge as a much stronger business with all the key pieces." The key pieces he recognized were a restructured balance sheet, liquidity and a "committed group of employees led by a new senior management team."

Aventine's biorefineries in Aurora and Mt. Vernon, 108 MMgy each, were close to completion before being shut down before the bankruptcy filing and with the good news, will restart the final stages of completion and finish sometime this fall according to Brennan.