BioAmber Inc., which has its main office in Montreal and executive offices and a research facility in Plymouth, has a joint venture with Tokyo-based Mitsui & Co. Ltd. on a bio-based succinic acid plant in Sarnia, Ontario.

BioAmber raised $13 million in a public offering in January, and on Feb. 10, Mitsui invested another $18 million in the plant.

The investment by Mitsui increases its ownership stake in the joint venture from 30 percent to 40 percent.

The investments strengthen BioAmber’s balance sheet as it gets the plant ready to commercialize the production of succinic acid, which is an important ingredient in the production of engineering plastics, polyurethanes, biodegradable polyesters, Spandex and other specialty chemicals.

BioAmber’s bio-based succinic acid is an alternative to petroleum-based versions.

Analyst Amit Dayal of Rodman & Renshaw wrote in a note last week: “In our opinion, boosted by the investment from Mitsui, the company should be able to produce at nearly 90 percent of full capacity by the end of 2016.”

Dayal is maintaining a “buy” rating on BioAmber.

 

Analyst: 3M retaining health information unit is a ‘prudent’ move

In September, 3M Co. announced that it was seeking strategic alternatives for its Health Information Systems Business.

Those alternatives were for the business that produces about $730 million in annual sales of health care coding software, services and analytics for doctors, hospital, insurers and government agencies.

On Feb. 2, 3M announced that instead it will retain the business and invest more money into the division which is a part of 3M’s $5.4 billion Health Care Business. On the same day the company announced a $10 billion share repurchase program and increased its dividend by 8 percent.

“Higher capital return via increased dividends and continued buybacks, aided in part by a leveraging of the balance sheet, remains a strategic alternative,” wrote Hilliard Lyons analyst Spencer Joyce in a note last week.

“This theme has been in play for several years now, and while we hesitate to call the capital return story a catalyst, we do view this theme as a prudent long-term financial move in the current interest rate environment,” he wrote. “Having said that, at some point the increased leverage may create some dissension among the investor base.”

While Joyce views 3M positively he is maintaining his “neutral” rating on 3M’s stock.