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BioVittoria hopes to sell sweet story, raise $20M

BioVittoria hopes sweet story will entice New Zealand investors

By Peter Kerr

Oct. 27 (BusinessWire) – BioVittoria Ltd., a Hamilton-based biotechnology company that operates in China and the U.S., is considering a New Zealand share sale to raise $20 million to commercialise a sweetener extracted from fruit.

The agritech and food ingredients business has developed a non-caloric fruit concentrate sweetener called PureLo from Chinese-grown Luo Han fruit. Luo Han is protected under World Trade Organisation rules, and this year BioVittoria expects to process 3,000 tonnes of fruit from 5,000 Miao and Yao hill tribe growers in mountainous areas of Guangxi province, southern China.

The resulting stable PureLo white powder is the first naturally occurring sweetener to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The product is 200 times sweeter than cane sugar and sells for about $450 a kilogram. PureLo is targeted at the beverage, food and confectionary markets.

“We’re in the process of capital raising,” said BioVittoria chief executive David Thorrold. “New Zealand is one of the options. Whether we do it through an initial public offering on the sharemarket, or privately, is one of a raft of considerations.”

The company is gauging investor interest before deciding who to tap for the funds, he said. BioVittoria appointed McDouall Stuart to consider options and the Wellington-based brokerage is expected to report back in a couple of weeks.

This is BioVittoria’s third round of capital raising, following its venture capital start in 2006, and a second round of funding last year.

Thorrold said the company anticipates making announcements on distribution and new products in the next couple of months.


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