Anne Chadwick Williams / The Sacramento Bee<137> Staff Photo<137>

CEO Neil Koehler

Sacramento’s Pacific Ethanol wipes out its corporate debt

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2014 - 9:32 am

Pacific Ethanol Inc. said Tuesday it has eliminated all its corporate debt, another milestone in the recovery of the once-troubled Sacramento company.

However, the Sacramento ethanol producer said its four operating plants are still a combined $48 million in debt.

At the corporate level, the company retired a $22.2 million bond offering by repaying the outstanding balance of less than $1 million. With that, “we have eliminated all indebtedness of the parent company,” said President and Chief Executive Neil Koehler in a prepared statement.

Five years ago, Pacific Ethanol defaulted on $250 million in debt, the legacy of its attempt to blanket the western United States with ethanol production plants. Caught between depressed ethanol prices and higher costs for its main raw ingredient, corn, Pacific Ethanol halted production at three of its four plants and placed all four of the facilities under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Through the bankruptcy process, the company was able to erase much of its debt but lost its plants to lenders. In the four years since the bankruptcy plan was approved by the courts, the company has gradually regained ownership and now controls 91 percent of the equity in the facilities.

With the ethanol market healthy again, three of the plants have resumed production, and in February the company said it will restart the final plant in Madera later this spring. Pacific Ethanol also completed a public stock sale earlier this month, raising $26 million after underwriting fees.

The company’s shares closed Tuesday at $14.33, down 20 cents, on the Nasdaq market.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

Read more articles by Dale Kasler

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