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The Italian Billionaire Family Making Glass Vials For Covid Vaccines Scores With U.S. IPO

By News Creatives Authors , in Billionaires , at January 1, 1970

The little-known Italian company making the glass vials for most of the globe’s Covid-19 vaccines just scored a rare feat: a New York Stock Exchange IPO. It’s the biggest public offering for an Italian firm in the U.S. since Ferrari’s 2015 listing.

Italian medical packaging firm Stevanato Group went public on the Big Board on July 16, raising $672 million and helping push up the fortune of the billionaire Stevanato family behind the company. Founded in 1949 by Giovanni Stevanato, the packaging multinational is the world’s largest maker of cartridges for insulin pens and provides vials and syringes for 90% of the world’s Covid-19 vaccines.

Franco Stevanato, Giovanni’s 48-year-old grandson and the company’s executive chairman since stepping down as CEO in February, had his grandfather’s vision in mind when he virtually rang the opening bell on Wall Street on Tuesday. “It’s the achievement of a dream for an Italian company, I had chills,” he told Forbes in a Zoom interview on Thursday. “For the first three or four decades, my grandfather was in start-up mode [without] making money.”

Stevanato’s been out of start-up mode for a while: The firm doubled its net profit to $94 million in 2020 on $779 million in revenues, which were up 23% from 2019. That strong growth in sales helped place Sergio Stevanato, 79, Giovanni’s son and the company’s chairman emeritus, on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list for the first time in 2021, with a net worth of $1.9 billion. After the IPO, he now owns a 53% stake, worth $3.1 billion, plus roughly $100 million in cash and other investments, including a winery in northeastern Italy. His sons Franco and Marco (the company’s vice chairman) each own 12% stakes worth about $730 million apiece.

Altogether, the IPO added $550 million to the family’s collective fortune, which now stands at an estimated $4.8 billion. The $672 million raised in the listing will go toward expanding Stevanato’s factories in Italy and China and building a new plant for vials, syringes and cartridges in Fishers, Indiana—sweetened by $2.9 million in conditional tax credits from the state—that’s expected to bring more than 200 jobs to the area.

(For more on Stevanato, see “The Covid Vaccine Will Require Billions Of Tiny Glass Vials—And This Italian Billionaire Family Is Making Them.”)

While Stevanato has been in the headlines for its involvement in the fight against Covid-19—its factories immediately sprang to work producing vials and syringes for vaccines when Italy was still under lockdown in April 2020—vaccines only made up 4% of the company’s revenues in 2020 and 2019. Injectable drug devices such as pens and cartridges accounted for 45% of the company’s sales last year, followed by insulin products with 16%.

“We’ve been in the vaccine space for more than 20 years and the impact of [Covid-19] on our revenue was really minor,” says Franco. “We’re proud of what we have done, but when you produce tens of millions [of pieces] every day, Covid is just one of several businesses.”

Founded outside Venice in 1949 as a maker of glass bottles for wine and perfume, the firm shifted to glass packaging for the pharmaceutical sector in the early 1970s and later grew to become a leading player in the industry, expanding overseas with new factories in Mexico in 2007 and China in 2012. It now operates fourteen plants across four continents, including two in southern California it inherited from its $112 million acquisition of German plastic packaging firm Balda in 2016.

For Franco Stevanato, tapping public markets will give the company the freedom to keep innovating as it enters the next chapter of its 70-plus-year history.

“We’re going to further invest in research and development to continue to build our pipeline of products, in a more sophisticated way,” he says, holding up a pocket-sized wearable device and a tiny insulin pen to his screen’s camera. “We really believe in this business for the next—we hope—70 years.”


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