Business & Real Estate

Sacramento ethanol producer’s shareholders OK big merger

Pacific Ethanol Inc.’s $192 million acquisition of an Illinois competitor was approved Thursday by shareholders of both companies, Pacific Ethanol announced.

The takeover of Aventine Energy Holdings Inc. of Pekin, Ill., is expected to be completed by July 1.

Buying Aventine will more than double Pacific Ethanol’s production capacity, make it the fifth largest U.S. ethanol manufacturer and expand its base from the West Coast to the Midwest. The Illinois company has four operating plants, all in its home state and Nebraska.

The deal also marks another milestone in a comeback that began in 2009, when a price slump forced Pacific Ethanol to scale back production and place its four plants in bankruptcy protection.

Pacific Ethanol is paying for Aventine in stock, not cash, at a price based on Pacific Ethanol’s share price when the deal closes. Based on Thursday’s close of $10.87, up 11 cents in Nasdaq trading, Pacific Ethanol would pay about $192 million.

When the deal is complete, Pacific Ethanol shareholders will own 58 percent of the combined company.