Agribusiness to Build Three Ethanol Plants in Midwest

Challenger Capital Group, Ltd., has secured $148 million in equity and subordinate debt for Dallas-based ASAlliances Biofuels LLC to help fund the company’s construction of three large-scale ethanol production plants in Nebraska, Indiana and Ohio. This funding is said to represent one of the largest ethanol transactions to date. Specifically, Challenger raised $94 million of equity and $54 million of mezzanine subordinate debt.

ASAlliances Biofuels, an ethanol production company, was developed by Americas Strategic Alliances LLC, a merchant-banking firm in Dallas. ASAlliances Biofuels has attracted strong project participants with extensive experience in the ethanol industry, including Cargill, which will provide corn and natural gas procurement as well as marketing and transportation services for each plant; Fagen Inc., which will provide design, engineering and construction expertise; and United Bio Energy Inc., which will manage the plant operations. “This is a win-win deal for all involved, from farmers to consumers, as the significant ethanol production from these facilities will help to reduce the United States’ dependency on foreign oil,” said Chuck Davis, executive director of Challenger. The ethanol-facility construction is estimated to cost $423 million. Each of the facilities is expected to produce 100 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol a year, in addition to 321,000 tons of dry distiller grains (DDG) and 223,000 tons of CO2 annually. Upon completion, this project will make ASAlliances Biofuels one the largest ethanol producers in the U.S., contributing to almost eight percent of ethanol production in the country. “Challenger’s assistance was instrumental in making this project a reality, which, in turn, greatly contributes to the development of renewable energy for our country,” said Steve Durham, chairman of ASAlliances Biofuels. Construction began in November 2005 on the Nebraska and Indiana plants and is expected to begin in Ohio in early 2006. ASAlliances Biofuels expects all three plants to be online by late 2007. The private equity participants are American Capital Strategies, Laminar Direct Capital, US Renewables Group and Midwest First Financial.
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