September 10, 2008
Leviev Group, Evogene and Orfuel to Establish a Biodiesel Company in Namibia, Africa
L.L Biofuel Namibia (PTY) Ltd. of the Leviev Group and Evogene Ltd. (TASE: EVGN) today announced that together with Orfuel Inc., a US subsidiary of Ormat Industries Ltd., they have signed an agreement to establish a new company focused on the growth of specialized castor plants for use as feedstock for biodiesel. The new company will be headquartered in Namibia, with operations in Namibia and possibly other locations in Africa.
According to the terms of the agreement, the new company will examine various castor varieties in field tests in Namibia, and following the selection of best performing varieties, the new company will work to commercialize and grow the selected varieties on a commercial scale in Namibia, and possibly in other locations in Africa. Evogene will provide the new company with the castor varieties for evaluation, and will utilize its knowledge and capabilities in plant growth. The Leviev Group will provide access to lands for crop growth in Namibia and logistical infrastructure for the project. In addition, the Leviev Group will contribute its experience and knowledge in establishing projects in Namibia and in other southern African countries.
The castor varieties to be supplied by Evogene will be selected from varieties being developed in a previously announced collaboration between Evogene and Orfuel, initiated in September 2007. Under this collaboration, which has received a grant from the BIRD Foundation (Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation), Evogene and Orfuel are jointly developing non edible plants, such as castor, for biodiesel commercial production. A special focus of this collaboration is that these plants can be grown commercially in non arable areas.
Castor is a high oil yielding crop and there are vast non arable lands available in Namibia that potentially could be used for this purpose. Thus it is anticipated that the cost of biodiesel feedstock produced using specialized castor crops grown in Namibia is expected to be significantly lower than cost of biodiesel produced from crops currently used for this purpose, such as soybean and canola.
Eli Nefussy, CEO of the Leviev Group in Namibia, stated: "Innovation is one of the key elements guiding the business strategy of the Leviev Group. Renewable energy and alternative fuels are fields of high importance to the Leviev Group. I am confident that the experience of the Leviev Group in Africa together with the technology and knowledge of Evogene and Orfuel through the utilization of arable lands will result in breakthroughs in these fields. We are pleased to be partners in such an innovative project, and hope that this collaboration will be a significant layer in creating renewable resources."
"This collaboration fits well into Evogene's business model in the field of biodiesel, and constitutes an additional stage towards commercialization of the plants developed through the joint project with Orfuel in one of the potential target locations," stated Ofer Haviv, Evogene's president and CEO. "We are convinced that with our extensive capabilities in plants together with the vast experience of the Leviev Group in Africa, we will be able to develop improved feedstock addressing the needs of the alternative fuel industry."
About Leviev Group
The activity of Leviev Group, to which L.L Biofuel Namibia (PTY) Ltd. belongs, includes various companies worldwide (in America, Europe, Africa, far east and other), which deal with real-estate, green construction, construction and infrastructures, mining, diamonds, international trade, energy and oil and other. The Leviev Group has been operating in Africa for several years, and has extensive experience in the continent in various fields. The Group is active in Namibia through mining, diamond refinement, constructions, infrastructure and agriculture.
Evogene is a leading developer of improved plants for the ag-biotech and biofuel industries. The Company's proprietary product development platform combines world leading computational gene discovery technologies, high throughput selection systems and advanced breeding methods. The platform's computational biology component -- the ATHLETE -- is based on Compugen's (NASDAQ: CGEN) in-silico predictive discovery capabilities. Evogene's current programs focus on yield under normal and various environmental stress conditions (such as drought), fertilizer utilization and the improvement of plants specifically for biofuel uses. Evogene has collaboration and licensing agreements with world leading companies in the ag-biotech and alternative energy industries. Evogene's headquarters are in Rehovot, Israel, and its stock is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE: EVGN). For additional information, please visit Evogene's website at www.evogene.com
For additional information, please visit www.ormat.com
This press release contains "forward-looking statements." These statements include words like "may,""expects,""believes,""scheduled" and "intends," and they describe opinions about future events. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Evogene Ltd. to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.
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