People and Leaders

Interview with Marco Astorri, ex CEO Bio-on

"We were victims of a well-prepared speculative attack. We Started a revolution so they stopped us" said Astorri

From graphic designer to king of plastic. Tell us about your rise?

We created a company by purchasing a small series of patents with Guido Cicognani. In 2013 we were offered to be listed on the AIM segment. It seemed like a good opportunity to grow while remaining independent. We could become the world leader in the field of biopolymers. The speculative attack has stopped everything.

You are holding a product that everyone wants to have. Is it still so?

I am convinced. With Bio-on PHA, all kinds of products have been made and the range of possible applications was not even fully explored.

In July came the Quintessential (QCM) report. Are you the ‘new Bolognese Parmalat?

I do not accept the comparison with Parmalat, just as I find the imbalance between those who have been able to prepare a speculative attack during many months while we were unable to defend our work in a few minutes. Bio-on was a supervised company, while QCM does not appear to be a fund and is not even a supervised company.

Revenues quintupled between 2017 and 2018, in line with the 2017-2020 business plan. Why such an ambitious plan?

It’s in line with the possibilities of a company that was going to replace plastic with a clean product and had the technology to do so.

You said a monthly production of 80 tons while the Prosecutor says only 5 …

The plant was built for 1000 tons per year. A few months after switching the plant on, it was already 40% over production, and it would have been fully operational in 2020. However, it was not designed for large-scale production but only to allow Bio-on to experiment and present the technology to its industrial partners.

They accuse you of false communications and market manipulation. How do you defend yourself?

I will demonstrate with my lawyers (Filippo Sgubbiand Tommaso Guerini) that Bio-on has never presented a false balance sheets and that in our communications with the market we have always respected the AIM regulation. We will prove that the profits that we have given up, the warrants that we let expire and ‘we not selling our shares’ are greater than what is being disputed.

The wiretapping … It’s the fault of the system that led us to make these communications ?

They should not be read partially. I was referring to the fact that a listed company has a more limited margin of action than an unlisted company because the supervisory bodies can intervene on the dissemination of communications.

Can Bio-on be saved?

I have maximum confidence in the curators, I am always sure that Bio-on has enormous technological potential, so much so that, immediately after the QCM attack, Cicognani and I gave 18 million to the company .

What do you think of Uil’s hypothesis of a cooperative with the workers themselves?

The idea is suggestive, also because the added value of the company has always been the great professionalism and competence of its employees.

In December 2016, an announcement was made of a 55 million license agreement to produce environmentally friendly plastic for a foreign multinational. A contract that, according to the Prosecutor, never has been signed.

As we have already shown and explained to the Company Court, both the multinational company and the contract existed. However, a very strict confidentiality agreement had been imposed on us, and in agreement with the supervisory authority we respected this.

Going back to the accusations of QCM, the production costs of Bio-on were 15 times higher than the competitors. Is it so?

Our challenge was to replace a product made from oil with one that is 100% biodegradable in nature. The market in which we intended to operate was not only the traditional one, but a new market, which is also being born thanks to the appeal of sustainability of the newer generations.

Your judgment on QCM?

Immediately after the attack, we turned to the justice. I have not been able to play any role in Bio-on since October. I hope all aspects of the story will be studied in depth. It’s the first time in the history of Italian finance, that a subject that has a known conflict of interest carried out an attack that has burned hundreds of millions of investments in a few hours.

Marco Astorri, CEO Bio-on
Marco Astorri, ex CEO Bio-on

Who is Bio-on?


Published on

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