By Renae Merle

The Washington Post

When Mark Emalfarb started his company, Dyadic, it was supplying pumice to make stone-washed jeans.

Forty years later, it is a small biotech company on track to debut on the Nasdaq as a public company this month.

Those plans are on ice amid the longest government shutdown in history. Without the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which furloughed most of its employees last month, Florida-based Dyadic can't move forward and raise money from the public.

“We are just caught in the middle,” Emalfarb said. “Our investors and we have been plotting and planning to do this over the last several years as we have rebuilt the company and advanced the company to the point where we were ready to go.”

Now in its fourth week, the shutdown is hobbling key parts of the financial system. Wall Street was expecting tech giants including Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and Pinterest to conduct IPOs this year, pushing the amount raised in public markets into record territory, but that now seems unlikely.

By this time in 2018, eight companies went public, said Kathleen Smith of Renaissance Capital.

“We will have to see how creative companies will be in trying to become public,” she said.

For Emalfarb, the shutdown is delaying a long-held dream. The company aimed to go public before a big health care conference in San Francisco on Jan. 7, when Emalfarb hoped to meet investors and raise its profile. The IPO was days away from final approval when the shutdown struck.

Dyadic has traveled a bumpy road. The company was delisted from the American Stock Exchange, which was purchased by the New York Stock Exchange, in 2008 after finding problems in its Asian subsidiaries. In 2015, Emalfarb sold the bulk of the business to DuPont for $75 million and it lost about $5 million during the first nine months of 2018, the most recent data available.

The company's stock is traded over the counter, where there are fewer investors and its price can fluctuate greatly.

Joining the Nasdaq would hopefully draw the attention of investors and federal regulators, Emalfarb said, including the Food and Drug Administration, which Dyadic needs to continue to grow. Being limited to over-the-counter trading keeps the company off the radar of most investors, he said.

Emalfarb said he is concerned interest could wane as the company awaits SEC approval and investors could put their money elsewhere.

“We have already seen people move on,” he said.