Earlier today, VIASPACE announced that Board Chairman Dr. Kevin Schewe and CEO Dr. Carl Kukkonen participated in a detailed interview hosted by Phil Kreider of The Green Baron Report regarding the recent corporate separation of VIASPACE from VIASPACE Green Energy (VGE), as well as the future plans VSPC has as a standalone bioenergy company.
A transcript of the interview is provided below. Those who wish to access the audio recording should visit www.thegreenbaron.com/Webcasts.htm.
Question: On October 2, VIASPACE announced the orderly separation of VIASPACE and VIASPACE Green Energy. Please explain the terms of the separation and how the separation will benefit VIASPACE and its shareholders.
Answer: Dr. Kevin Schewe–In 2008, VIASPACE and Mr. Sung Chang joined forces in an effort to introduce and commercialize our proprietary bioenergy product, Giant King(TM) Grass. Mr. Chang’s framed art company, Inter-Pacific Arts, provided cash revenues to fund both VIASPACE and VIASPACE Green Energy. From 2008 until 2012, our CEO Dr. Kukkonen became the world’s leading Giant King Grass expert and through numerous invited presentations at international conferences and many meetings with potential customers, he introduced our product to the world. During the same time period, Giant King Grass was rigorously tested by many independent laboratories and found to be an excellent fuel and feedstock for electricity generation, energy pellets and for biofuels and biochemicals. Giant King Grass is the highest yielding, continuously renewable, dedicated bioenergy crop in the world. This research and business development phase took time and effort but in retrospect was quite successful at establishing the reputation of VIASPACE as an emerging green energy company and Giant King Grass as a tier one renewable, bioenergy product.
Earlier this year, Mr. Chang decided to move in a different direction with VIASPACE Green Energy and the framed art business. We mutually decided to split VIASPACE and VIASPACE Green Energy into “sister companies” that would both work to take the next step to commercialize Giant King Grass as the world’s leading renewable bioenergy platform. VIASPACE previously held VGE’s stock but we owed Mr. Chang $5.6 million. Under the terms of the separation, the $5.6 million debt to Chang was satisfied with VIASPACE returning the VGE stock shares it owned to him. As a result, VIASPACE became a stand-alone company and VIASPACE’s ownership in VIASPACE Green Energy went to Chang. VIASPACE has the exclusive worldwide license for Giant King Grass outside of China and Taiwan.
VIASPACE and its shareholders have benefited from the separation by eliminating the overhang of our prior $5.6 million debt and emerging as a pure play in bioenergy. We are now totally focused on the commercialization of Giant King Grass as our core business. We have moved from a research and development company to a deal making company focused on creating a new, robust and organic revenue stream for our future and for our shareholders.
Question: Additionally, in the October 2 press release, it was announced that Director Kevin Schewe, the holder of 100 million shares of VSPC common stock, entered into a loan agreement with VIASPACE in the form of a secured convertible note. Since we have Dr. Schewe with us here today, there is no better time to ask about the details of this financing and the positive support you continue to provide the Company.
Answer: Dr. Kevin Schewe–As part of the separation of VIASPACE from VGE, I agreed to provide VIASPACE a million dollars in the form of a secured, convertible loan. This was important because VIASPACE needs this positive financial support in the wake of the separation. VIASPACE does have revenues, for example, the initial phases of the deals we have already announced in St. Croix and Myanmar, but this does not yet cover the expenses of being a public company. As a result of my tangible financial commitment to the company, I have been given the irrevocable proxy to vote the Company’s 50.1% class-A preferred stock share, and I will use that share to advance the cause of VIASPACE shareholders. Investors should note that I have recently converted my first two loans, which together totaled $85,000, into VIASPACE common shares. These shares are restricted for six months and this should send a strong message regarding my belief that these shares are going to be an even more valuable investment going forward.
Question: On October 3, it was announced that VIASPACE signed a 1,500 acre Giant King Grass supply contract with Tibbar Energy. Tell us about this contract, when it should come on line, and what kind of revenues you hope to achieve.
Answer: Carl Kukkonen –This is a “real deal” that our investors have been waiting for us to announce. It is a 20-year, 1,500 acre Giant King Grass supply contract with Tibbar Energy in St. Croix (U.S. Virgin Islands) for a 6MW anaerobic biogas power plant. Electricity on St. Croix is currently generated with diesel and heavy fuel oil which is very expensive and produces substantial carbon dioxide emissions. We are partnering with Tibbar to use continuously renewable Giant King Grass as the dedicated, non-food, bioenergy crop to fuel the power plant with a lower cost than fuel oil and negligible carbon dioxide emissions. This 20-year project is slated to be underway in 2013 and fully on-line by first quarter 2014 and will generate over 20 full time jobs with a total economic benefit of $150 million to the community over the life of the project.
We are already generating revenues in the consulting, design and implementation of the project, but our real revenues will be from our ongoing license fee collected as the Giant King Grass is continually harvested. We have proven to our customers that they actually save money in operational costs and efficiencies by using the extremely high bioenergy yield from VIASPACE’s Giant King Grass and paying a license fee than by using lower yielding, less productive crops. The precise terms of the agreement with Tibbar are confidential, but our revenues are regular and dependable over the life of the project.
Question: On October 9, VIASPACE announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture officially approved Giant King Grass in the United States. What does this victory mean for the Company and how will this help you market the product going forward?
Answer: Carl Kukkonen –USDA approval of Giant King Grass validates our product in the eyes of the world, and also allows us to enter the US market. Giant King Grass was vigorously tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service for over one year, and found to be pathogen free. It was approved for distribution in the United States. We can now grow Giant King Grass in the United States. Having passed the rigorous standards of the USDA gives our customers here in the U.S. and worldwide peace of mind regarding the safety of our product.
Question: On October 11, it was announced that you, Dr. Kukkonen (the CEO), the CFO, Stephen Muzi and Director Angelina Galiteva have all agreed to a 6 month lock-up of their VIASPACE stock shares. You and Mr. Muzi also agreed to 33% salary reductions to trim corporate expenses. Please explain the purpose of the lock-up and pay cuts.
Answer: Carl Kukkonen –As part of the separation, Dr. Schewe, and Mr. Chang agreed to a six month lock-up of their VIASPACE shares to demonstrate their belief in the future of the company. Our CFO, Stephen Muzi and I, and our other Board Director, Angelina Galiteva, likewise wanted to demonstrate our confidence in the future of the company by locking up our shares. In total, insiders holding 47% of the VIASPACE common shares have locked up their shares for 6 months which should reduce potentially volatility that could have been related after the separation of the companies.
As a further step to show our dedication to the success of the separation and the future of VIASPACE, both Mr. Muzi and I accepted a 33% pay cut as part of a comprehensive plan to control expenses. We want our shareholders and anyone interested in our company to know that we are working hard to grow this company and increase shareholder value going forward.
Question: On Tuesday, October 16, it was announced that VIASPACE signed an agreement in Myanmar with June Industry Ltd. It appears that this relationship could develop into something new and different. Please explain.
Answer: Carl Kukkonen –We are very excited to now be part of Myanmar’s future. President Obama is going to Myanmar next week. The US is strongly supporting the move to democracy in Myanmar, and is encouraging new business relationships. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has the perfect climate for growing Giant King Grass. The previous military government ran power plant projects in the past, but now the new civilian government is granting permission to local and foreign companies to generate power. Just last week, I made an invited presentation at the Forum on Renewable Energy Development in Myanmar held by the Asian Development Bank which is expected to provide funding for power plant projects including biomass in Myanmar. At the forum, the German company Conergy presented on solar energy and General Electric made a presentation on wind. I represented biomass. My presentation entitled “Biomass Electricity Production Options for Myanmar” is available on the VIASPACE website at www.VIASPACE.com. I presented specific biomass electricity generation options using Giant King Grass for Myanmar, including small power plants using anaerobic digestion and larger 30-90MW direct combustion power plants. Both options are scalable and multiple power plants all fueled by Giant King Grass could be built in a short time.
I have spent more than three months in Myanmar this year and have established good relationships with our partners there. We believe that Giant King Grass can become the perfect, continuously renewable, non-food, dedicated bioenergy platform for local electricity generation and also for other bioenergy products such as pellets that can be used locally or exported to other nations.
Question: On October 22, it was announced that the USDA approved Giant King Grass was growing in California. Please explain the benefit and importance of your California site.
Answer: Carl Kukkonen –Our California site serves several important purposes for VIASPACE. First, we wanted to prove that Giant King Grass grows well here in the United States. It loves the California climate and we have proven that it can be used for renewable bioenergy production in the Southern United States. This site now serves as a convenient U.S. “showroom” for potential customers so they can actually see and experience Giant King Grass for themselves. Importantly, the site serves as a propagation nursery which provides Giant King Grass seedlings for US customers and partners in other countries. We can provide grass samples to customers or labs for bioenergy testing. Having our California site will help us to expand in the United States, the Caribbean, Central and South America.
Question: Carl, What can you tell us about your recent efforts on behalf of the Company?
Answer: Carl Kukkonen– VIASPACE is now actively involved in bioenergy project development. We are not only a premier supplier of dedicated biomass; we now are serving as project developers together with partners to bring power plant and other bioenergy projects to fruition. Giant King Grass is an enabling technology. With its high yield, we can produce electricity and biofuels at a lower cost than the competitors. With our partners, we can deliver a biogas power plant in 12 months and a larger direct combustion power plant in 24 months including the Giant King Grass plantation. We have full financial models to support the economic side of the projects. We are in contact with both debt and equity financers for power plant projects.
In a power plant project, VIASPACE will not only receive the license fees for the Giant King Grass, it will have an equity participation in the power plant which will generate additional revenue.
In the last six months, I have traveled extensively and met with many potential partners and customers. We are working on projects in eight countries and have signed several contracts. The contracts in St. Croix and Myanmar have been announced, and the others are covered by confidentiality agreements and will be disclosed at the appropriate time.
Question: When do you believe that VIASPACE can achieve profitability and what we else would you like to tell an investor that might be considering a purchase of VSPC stock?
Answer: Dr. Kevin Schewe– VIASPACE is now poised for huge success at commercializing Giant King Grass worldwide as the highest yielding biomass crop in the world. We should begin to see revenues from our license agreements in 2013 and profitability in 2014. We have many deals in various stages of development and plan to announce those as they are completed. We are actively engaged in business deals and project development in the Americas, the Caribbean, Africa and Southeast Asia. We believe that we have a solid foundation, a unique product, an aggressive business plan and the expertise and commitment to see it all through to resounding success!
With regards to what I would like to tell an investor that might be considering an investment in VIASPACE, consider the following. When I joined the VIASPACE board of directors in January 2012, I owned about 65,000,000 shares of VSPC. Since that time, I have been aggressively accumulating additional shares, and as of today, now preferentially own just north of 127,000,000 shares which is nearly twice what I owned less than a year ago. As an insider, I continue to accumulate shares and that should send a strong message of support to current and potential investors. We are presently a penny stock, microcap company, but we aspire to much greater value and we are actively engaged in making deals happen. We want and plan to make Giant King Grass the world’s leading, renewable, non-food, bioenergy platform for bioelectricity, exportable bioenergy pellets, biochemicals and bioplastics. I think that VIASPACE is an investment worth considering.
For more information, visit www.viaspace.com
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