Francesco Aquilini (born 1960) is a Canadian businessman. 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, Canada. 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, oversee several subsidiaries:
Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena
The Canucks are 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 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 hardwood tree nursery. The Group also owns and manages one of the world’s larger blueberry and cranberry growing and processing operations.
Members of the Aquilini family, including Francesco Aquilini, were charged with 11 offences for environmental damage in 2009. The charges stem from Golden Eagle Group's unauthorized excavation and pump installation in the North Alouette river. Conservation officers said the “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat” resulted in the resulted in the deaths of thousands of fish.
In July 2010, WorkSafeBC inspectors visited the Aquilini's blueberry farm and levied $60,000 in fines. Officials reported they had found vehicles used to transport workers in serious disrepair and that some employees driving the vehicles did not have valid licences. Some workers were also reported to be transported while clinging onto flatbeds on the backs of trucks as they bounced along with unsecured loads. An additional $60,000 in fines was levied for a worker injured and allegedly not given timely access to first aid. The Aquilinis appealed these fines but lost.
In February 2012, the Aquilini family was given a further administrative fine of $125,277 for allegedly recurring problems with working conditions. A subsequent inspection by WorkSafeBC found ththe worker safety issues at the farm had not improved. It is one of the largest fines handed out by the provincial government agency in 2012. Aquilini is appealing the 2012 fine.
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 only consumer brand, is a vodka based refreshment beverage inspired by classic Italian sodas. Bassano Hard Soda was launched in Canada in March 2011.
Francesco is the Chair and primary sponsor of the Italian Gardens (Il Giardino Italiano) in Hastings Park. He has participated in the mentoring program Templeton High School and hosted many charity groups at Canucks games. Francesco and Tali'ah have also given significant support to the BC Children's Hospital.
In his early 20s, Aquilini married Dusty Martel, then a local radio personality at CFMI. They had one child and were quickly 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.
- Pitt Meadows water diversion Vancouver Sun March 9th, 2011
- Proposed facility irks local residents, Castlegar News, August 18, 2009
- Canucks.com, Official Page on Canucks.com
- http://www.theprovince.com/news/Canucks+owner+Francesco+Aquilini+seeks+divorce+proceedings+blackout/6777658/story.html[dead link]
John McCaw, Jr.
|Owner of Vancouver Canucks
(with John McCaw, Jr., 2004–2006)