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First wood, now glass and marble. Biesse is increasingly international

At the end of a series of negotiations that lasted several months, Biesse, a company listed on the Italian stock exchange and run by the Selci family, took control of 100 per cent of the shares of GMM in Gravellona Toce, Piedmont. The turnover of GMM, which is around EUR 125 million annually, will be included in Biesse’s consolidated financial statements at the end of the year.

he negotiations that drew to a close in recent days were not straightforward, not least because the managers of the Pesaro-based mechanical company were met with competition from other companies in the sector during the talks, resulting in a bidding war. In order to make GMM part of the group, Biesse - a company that produces machinery for processing wood, glass, marble and other materials - had to stump up EUR 72 million. 75 per cent of the Piedmontese company was acquired from the Consilium fund, and the remaining 25 per cent from the founders of the Gravellona Toce-based company, through the financial holding FLG Holding. Roberto Selci (pictured above) is the managing director of the Pesaro-based company, the son of Giancarlo, founder of this pocket-sized multinational, who has been made a Cavaliere del Lavoro.

Biesse ended 2022 with a turnover of EUR 822 million, and for 2023, is due to hit just under the EUR 800 million mark, as a result of shrinking markets and changes on the international scene. The company's Social Responsibility Report states that “Biesse is dedicated to promoting the development of people, fostering curiosity, encouraging innovation and valuing the unique characteristics of individuals, respecting their rights through shared corporate values”. 96 per cent of Biesse employees are on permanent contracts, more than 1,500 people have been working at Biesse for more than 10 years, and last year, more than 10,000 hours of training were delivered to employees. Furthermore, the company also supports social, cultural, artistic and sporting initiatives in the local area.

Biesse is not only present in Italy: it also has a factory in Bangalore, in India, while the Chinese facility has been sold. “Because there was no competition: our competitor was state-owned, so at the end of the year, the holes in the budget were cleared by the state, by Beijing,” founder Giancarlo Selci explained at the time, when the decision was made to lower the shutters on the Chinese venture. However, in closing this operation, Roberto Selci had the support of the co-CEO Massimo Potenza, and with regard to the financial profile of the CFO Pierre La Tour, who will leave the Pesaro-based group in April to join one of fashion’s biggest brands, Ferragamo.

Roberto Selci, you have acquired control of GMM: What's the strategy behind this move?
“The acquisition of GMM is in line with Biesse's strategic plan: as part of this, we have declared our desire to grow the business both organically and inorganically, with a view to expanding our product portfolio and increasing our market share.”

There is talk of several overlapping areas between Biesse and GMM at global level: will there be a move towards any mergers?
“The GMM group is present in 90 countries and operates 9 distribution subsidiaries worldwide, with 6 production plants in Italy and one in Thailand. We will be implementing possible synergies, especially in terms of the geographical network and product development expertise, with a view to boosting the stone and glass businesses in a significant way. There are few products that might overlap: in actual fact, most of the range is complementary.”

When will the GMM turnover, which is around 125 million, show up in Biesse’s consolidated statements?
“It will be included in Biesse’s consolidated financial statements in 2024.”

Are you focusing more on marble or glass technologies with this acquisition?
“This is a strategic acquisition that will enable us to complete our range of stone processing machines and further increase our range of machinery and tools for processing glass and other materials, with new industrial solutions that compliment one another, and which can be integrated with our technologies, thus increasing the presence, productivity and flexibility of our products.

Is part of the issue that the market cyclicality on wood processing machines needs to be overcome?
“Together with GMM Group, Biesse will be able to provide one of the most comprehensive ranges of products in the stone and glass industry, in addition to our traditional portfolio for the wood industry. It is certainly true that being present in more than one business sector will also help us to cope better with the cyclical nature of individual sectors.

Was the acquisition easy or difficult? Was there any competition?
“As this was a major acquisition, it took time and effort, but we are proud of the result we have achieved,” concludes Roberto Selci.

In addition to the plants in Piedmont, GMM also has a production area in Thailand, along with around 400 employees with 9 distribution branches. Biesse, a company that is currently undergoing a major reorganisation, exports 80 per cent of its machinery abroad, with 4 campuses for production, more than 30 showrooms around the world, and around 4,000 employees, 2,000 of whom work in the production plants alone, located on the outskirts of Pesaro.


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