Bio-on, second life: green light to Maip

Bio-on, second life: green light to Maip

Bio-on, second life

A second life for Bio-on, the former bioplastic unicorn. The court of Bologna has given the "clearance to print" to the acquisition by Maip, a Turin-based group from Settimo specialized in the same field. With the approval of the Emilian judges to the Piedmontese company's proposal, which convinced creditors and bankruptcy trustees, the process to get the startup founded in 2007 by Marco Astorri and Guido "Guy" Cicognani "back on track to develop technologies in the sector of bioplastics from polyhydroxyalkanoate (Pha) polymers, which reached a capitalization of one billion euros in 2018, which had earned it the title of unicorn, and ended up under attack in 2019 by a speculative fund, which sparked an investigation by the Bologna prosecutor's office, the zeroing of top management and bankruptcy.

Of that season, only a pale specter remains, with skeleton staff and idle plants, which at a certain point ended up on the radar of the Ministry of Development cost-effective for vaccine production. Now in Maip the direction of the new chapter in the history of Bio-on.

The case:

The operation Who is Maip The return of Marco Astorri 2023 is the year of truth for Bio-on, the former bioplastic unicorn The buyer Maip gets the green light from the major creditors. But now he needs the court's approval before restarting the plants. And next year the trial of the former top management of the startup will also come to life

The operation

At the helm is Haruki spa, a company controlled 75% by Maip Compounding srl and 25% by Plastotecnica srl (both companies belonging to the Maip Group). It is therefore a vehicle created ad hoc for the acquisition of Bio-on. In the belly it has a dowry of 20 million, which are used to fulfill the promises of the concordat project. In other words, restore the Castel San Pietro systems and restart them. Now technical times will be needed to conclude the purchase and transfer of keys from the team of bankruptcy trustees Luca Mandrioli and Antonio Gaiani, in Maip. Among these, the notification to the Presidency of the Council for the exercise of the golden power (the regulation on the control of the purchase operations of companies considered critical) given that Bio-on's biodigesters make it a strategic plant at national level.

On the plate, in addition to the provision of money for investments, the Piedmontese group has put a five-year plan. Objective: to synthesize Pha from agricultural waste or agro-industrial by-products (such as sugar cane, beets, glycerol from biodiesel). Using technology developed by Bio-on. Last September, Maip's intervention halted the spiral of auctions to place Bio-on with the highest bidder, which all went regularly deserted. From the first tender of May 2021, starting price of 95 million, the value dropped to 13.4 million of the last call, the eighth, scheduled for 14 September and suspended precisely due to the arrival of the letter from Maip .

For 3 years we have had a 500 million fund for biotech that does not use the money it has It is the Enea Tech and Biomedical Foundation, which should push technology transfer between universities and companies, but is blocked by maneuvers of politics. The umpteenth foray to the top is the step backwards for the general manager

Who is Maip

Maip has experience in the sector. It was born in 1987, aggregating activities started in 1962. Behind it are the Martini and Nicola families. At the helm, in the double capacity of managing director and president, is Eligio Martini. Maip develops plastic compounds, i.e. formulations through the mixture of different polymers, which instead are the product of Bio-on. The group, based in Settimo Torinese, closed 2021 with a turnover of 11.8 million and a profit of 877,858 euros, an increase compared to 706,648 euros in 2020, and this despite a dark period due to the lockdown and effects on the automotive industry, the company's main customer.

Among the reasons for the growth, the "special products with high added value, which are less affected by price competition", reads the balance sheet. The operating arm is Maip compounding srl, while Ciceri de Mondel, specialized in thermoplastic sheets, also falls under the umbrella of the group.

For Maip, the operation should close the circle of offering more sustainable projects. To say it is the president Martini: "Thanks to this operation and the evident synergy, the Maip Group, with the restart of Bio-on, expands its value chain by implementing the production of sustainable products with high technological value". And he adds: “Our goal is to offer the market an excellent portfolio of unique and innovative materials with few equals worldwide which will include over 500 formulations based on polyhydroxyalkanoates (Pha), in powder and granules”.

For Vittorio Caleffi, general secretary of Uiltec Emilia-Romagna, “this provision because it finally lays the foundations for production recovery. The know-how of this company is essential to restart the development of technologies for the evolution of the chemical industry in terms of sustainability and an alternative to fossil fuels".

Bio-on, one year later: what remains of the former Italian unicorn of bioplastics

The return of Marco Astorri

The former founder Marco Astorri is also back on track. Martini says it: "For the success of the operation, we asked Marco Astorri to collaborate with us as we believe that his experience and his skills are absolutely necessary for the relaunch of Bio-on". Astorri, who ended up at the center of the Bio-on investigation, is accused along with other former top management and managers of the company for various reasons of fraudulent bankruptcy, attempted abusive use of credit and market manipulation. In the last hearing of the trial at the end of January, the defenders asked for it to be canceled in reference to the hypotheses of fraudulent bankruptcy and abusive use of credit, due to the modification of the charge. A hypothesis which, if accepted, would restart the process from scratch.

In the meantime, we are thinking about the future of the company. Haruki and the Maip Group were assisted in the transaction by the BonelliErede law firm, whose team was made up of partner Marco Arato, leader of the focus team on corporate crisis and debt restructuring, and associate Federico Sacchi. Financial and accounting assistance was provided by Studio Rinaldi, whose team was made up of partners Paolo Rinaldi and Alessandro Savoia. Gabriele Fagnano, partner of the Pavesio e Associati with Negri Clementi studio, in the person of the partner, and Marco Giubbilei of Giubbilei Pantaleo also lent their assistance