||A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (December 2014)|
|Born||1960 (age 54–55)
Vancouver, BC, CAN
Francesco Aquilini (born 1960) is a Canadian businessman and investor. He is the managing director of Vancouver-based Aquilini Investment Group, the parent company of several diverse subsidiaries. The company is best known for its ownership of the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena, where Aquilini sits as Chairman and NHL Governor.
Early life and family business
Francesco Aquilini was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. Aquilini attended Templeton Secondary School, where he was an excellent athlete and mediocre student. He went on to graduate from Simon Fraser University with a degree in Business Administration. He later earned an MBA from UCLA.
His father, Luigi Aquilini, emigrated from Brescia, Italy, to Vancouver in 1953. He started Aquilini Investment Group in the 1960s and is still active in the company operations and decision making. Having come to Canada from Italy in the mid-1950s, Luigi started his own construction company, working in East Vancouver during the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, he bought and sold older buildings in Vancouver, Ontario and Quebec. He then began buying land to build new condominium towers. Francesco and his two brothers, Roberto and Paolo, began working in the company during the 1980s and are now all Managing Directors.
Aquilini Investment Group
Francesco, along with his brothers and father, oversees several subsidiaries:
Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena
The Canucks is a professional ice hockey team based in Vancouver. On November 17, 2004, Aquilini purchased a 50% share in Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment (the owners of both the Canucks franchise and Rogers Arena) from John McCaw, Jr. On November 8, 2006, Aquilini purchased the remaining 50% of the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena. In May 2007, Gaglardi and Beedie's civil lawsuit over Aquilini's purchase reached the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The court ruled for Aquilini, on January 10, 2008. The court held that there was no legal partnership between Aquilini, Beedie, and Gaglardi, and that McCaw was free to sell the team to anyone he wished. Aquilini and Gaglardi knew each other from the many joint family events they had attended over the years. Their fathers (Luigi and Bob) were longtime friends and commercial allies. Both families are still majority partners in the proposed Garibaldi At Squamish resort north of Vancouver.
Aquilini Developments, a division led by Dave Negrin, owns and develops real estate. The company is primarily focused on Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, but has holdings across Canada, in the US and Italy. Recent multi-storey residential developments in Vancouver include the King Edward Village, Richards Living tower, and Maynards Block. The company has also proposed building three residential towers around Rogers Arena. Other recent acquisitions include an acre of land in downtown Moncton, NB  and a bankrupt golf course and commercial land in Chilliwack, BC.
Aquilini Developments, in partnership with the Gaglardi family, is the proponent of the proposed $2.6B Garibaldi at Squamish resort. The planning and approvals from the project have dragged on since 1996 and community opposition to the project has steadily grown. On March 23, 2010, the BC province stated that the proponents had failed to provide enough information to earn the project a passing grade.
On August 17, 2012 the Vancouver Sun reported rumours that Aquilini was contemplating the acquisition of Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre and the land it occupies.
Aquilini Properties owns and manages hotels and other income-producing properties across Canada. Aquilini Properties owns five office towers across Canada and has half ownership of Halifax-based Pacrim Hospitality Services, which owns and manages 30 hotels across Canada. These include the Embassy Suites hotel in Montreal, the Holiday Inn Express in East Vancouver, The division also owns all 48 Pizza Hut locations in BC.
The company previously owned one of the largest rental complexes in Canada, the West Edmonton village.
Golden Eagle Group
Golden Eagle Group operates a variety of recreational and agricultural businesses within 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) of prime agricultural land. This is the single largest land holding in the Greater Vancouver Area. This includes two 18-hole golf courses, a western town movie set, real estate, and a 400-acre (160 ha) hardwood tree nursery. The Group also owns and manages one of the world’s larger blueberry and cranberry growing and processing operations.
Aquilini Renewable Energy
Aquilini Renewable Energy, led by John Negrin, is looking for opportunities in green energy, including waste-to-power and wind power. The division earned community and media attention for a proposal in 2008 and 2009 to build a petroleum waste reduction and recycling plant near Christina Lake, a lake that is popular with summer vacationers.
Aquilini Brands, led by Barry Olivier, was formed in October 2009. Bassano Hard Soda, the division's first consumer brand, is a vodka-based refreshment beverage inspired by classic Italian sodas. Bassano Hard Soda was launched in Canada in March 2011. Now, Jaw Drop cooler co. is its newest consumer brand, launching in Canada in 2012.
Personal life and Philanthropy
Francesco is known for his philanthropic work in British Columbia, through both his personal contributions and the charitable organizations founded by his family through their various business ventures.
Francesco is the Chair and primary sponsor of the Italian Gardens (Il Giardino Italiano) in Hastings Park. His company has given significant support to the BC Children's Hospital. Francesco is also a regular participant and contributor to the Boys Club Network, which provides mentorship for at-risk young men in BC.
The Aquilini Investment Group also supports land conservation and wildlife habitat protection, including contributing to the purchase of the Codd Wetlands in Pitt Meadows to protect the area. Additionally, a 104 hectare site adjacent to Blaney Bog Regional Park was renamed the Aquilini Land Conservancy to recognize their significant financial contribution that helped permanently protect the area.
Under the Canucks brand, Francesco has hosted many charity groups at Canucks games and supports a number of charitable organizations, including: the Canucks for Kids Fund, to support childhood health and wellness, with specific programs aimed at issues like childhood diabetes; the Canucks Autism Nework, which provides recreational, social and vocational programs for individuals living with autism; and the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, which provides care for sick children in BC.
In his early 20s, Aquilini married Dusty Martel, then a local radio personality at CFMI. They had one child but were soon divorced.
- "Francesco Aquilini, Chairman & Governor, NHL", NHL.com.
- "The Breakaway Shot", BC Business, October 9, 2008.
- Court feud yields a rare look into Canucks' backroom dealing By Ian Mulgrew. Vancouver Sun, B1. May 8, 2007.
- Proposed facility irks local residents, Castlegar News, August 18, 2009
John McCaw, Jr.
|Owner of Vancouver Canucks
(with John McCaw, Jr., 2004–2006)