Bio-on, 2023 is the year of truth for the former bioplastic unicorn

Bio-on, 2023 is the year of truth for the former bioplastic unicorn


2023 will be the year of truth for Bio-on, the former Italian unicorn of bioplastics which collapsed under the blows of a speculative attack and an investigation. Because there is a buyer willing to take over the now bankrupt Emilian company, after the judicial earthquake that hit it in 2019: the Piedmontese plastic group Maip srl. And his project has received the go-ahead from major creditors in recent days. And again in 2023, the trial against the former top management of Bio-on will come to life, starting with the two founders Marco Astorri and Guido "Guy" Cicognani.

The rescue plan

Let's start from the future of the startup. With the green light from the big creditors (mostly banks, service and energy companies and the plant builder) there is no formal step to deliver the keys to Bio-on to Maip: the approval of the composition with creditors by the Court from Bologna. In essence, the "visa is printed" to the buyer's proposal approved by the creditors. Due to some administrative delays, the approval is expected to arrive in mid-January. At that point, Maip could take ownership of Bio-on in early spring.

Maip has experience in the sector. You were born in 1987, aggregating activities started in 1962. Behind you 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.

Someone wants to buy Bio-on, the former bioplastic unicorn A Piedmontese plastics company comes forward to take over the former startup-revelation, declared bankrupt after an investigation by the Bologna Public Prosecutor's Office which in 2019 top management cleared

The relaunch of Bio-on

The company, which has offered 17 million to buy Bio-on and has already placed the surety necessary for the composition with creditors procedure, " wants to start in 2023 with a relaunch of research and laboratories - explains Vittorio Caleffi, general secretary of Uiltec Emilia-Romagna -. He also wants to work on licenses, starting with the licensee that Bio-on has in Russia, and put the plant back into operation, for the production of product samples from 2024 ”.

Of the Bio-on galaxy are survivors two companies: the spa, the patent safe, controlled at the time by the two founders, Astorri and Cicognani, through Capsa srl, and Bio-on plants srl, which has the bioplastic production plant in Castel San Pietro Terme, at the gates of Bologna. Each now employs about 10 people, recalls Caleffi. In all 20 employees, a sixth of those who worked in the startup in the golden age. Maip's intervention halted the spiral of downward auctions banned by the bankruptcy trustees, Luca Mandrioli and Antonio Gaiani. From the first tender of May 2021, starting price of 95 million, the value has dropped to 13.4 million of the last call, the eighth, scheduled for 14 September and suspended precisely due to the arrival of Maip.

The trial

In 2023, the trial of the president and founder of Bio-on, Marco Astori, and eight other managers and auditors, accused in various ways of improper and careless fraudulent bankruptcy, market manipulation and attempted credit abuse. The last hearing in December served to welcome the civil parties. Only the Italian Union for the protection of investment and savings brought 900, all accepted.

In July 2019, after Bio-o, born to develop technologies in the sector of bioplastics from polyhydroxyalkanoate polymers (Pha ), was crowned the new Italian unicorn for having reached one billion in capitalization the year before, a report by the US fund Quintessential Capital Management accuses it of being “a big bubble, based on improbable technology, with essentially “simulated” revenues and loans thanks to a network of empty boxes ”. In addition, writes the fund, "it has not yet produced or sold anything", "the financial situation is precarious and the accounting presents serious irregularities". In a few days, around 700 million euros went up in smoke on the Stock Exchange, where it was listed in 2014.

In October 2019 the earthquake. An investigation by the Prosecutor of Bologna beheads the top management. Assets for 150 million end up under seizure. In December 2020, the Bologna court declares bankruptcy. Passive state: 70 million. The helm passes to the bankruptcy trustees. At one point, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Economic Development thought of using Bio-on for the production of vaccines. Maip's offer in September. And a hope: to give a second life to the former bioplastic unicorn.

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