Iconic Italian Brands Acquired by US Investor

Columbus and Cinelli are two of the oldest and most famous brands in Italian cycling.
Columbus was founded in 1919 and for many years was the main Italian manufacturer of steel tubing for high end road bicycles. With the advent of carbon fibre Columbus diversified into a significant range of carbon forks but has never strayed too far from its frame building supplies roots.

Cinelli, founded in 1947 by professional racer Cino Cinelli, was best known through the decades for its steel, then alloy, then carbon handlebars and stems. But Cinelli also made what were at the time state of the art steel road and track bikes that won 28 Olympic and World Championships and set the Hour Record.

Antonio Columbo bought Cinelli in 1979. He broadened the product range and gave the brand an avant-garde image based upon modern art designs.

Antonio Columbo has just sold a majority share in Guppo Srl, the parent company for both Cinelli and Columbus to Asobi Ventures which is the Austin, Texas based family investment vehicle of Victor Luis.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Luis has led the development of several luxury and premium brands globally across Asia, North America and Europe. He’s had a long career working with a range of high-end fashion brands including LVMH, Coach, Givenchy and Kate Spade and others in both senior management and investor roles. He was CEO of Tapestry Inc, a global fashion brand holding company with revenue of US $5.88 billion (A$7.84 billion) in 2018.

A montage of early Cinelli imagery from the Cinelli website.

Marcello Segato will become CEO of Gruppo Srl.

Segato is an experienced manager and entrepreneur in the mobility sector who served for more than 20 years in CEO positions of both larger companies and start-ups. Since February 2020, Segato has been a consultant to Gruppo and Antonio Colombo, focused on developing the company’s strategic plan and laying the foundations for the company’s next chapter of growth.

Antonio Colombo stated, “It’s hard and challenging to hand over 100 years of legacy and of great satisfaction. I did so when I recognized in Victor Luis the perfect understanding of my vision of merging cycling with art, design, culture, technology and competition, combined with an undisputed and proven managerial and organizational ability. I have seen the future and the future is now.”

Victor Luis added, “My family and I take very seriously the responsibility of ownership of these two extraordinary brands and the leading role they have played in the design, technology and culture of cycling. I look forward to supporting Antonio’s vision and the work of the talented teams of Gruppo as we grow new markets and take advantage of the very positive global trends in cycling, health and outdoor. Gruppo has strong roots as an Italian manufacturer and the recent issues in the global supply chain have only reinforced our commitment to Italian know-how and craftsmanship.”

Analysis website Wallmine estimated Mr Luis to have a net worth of at least US$96.1 million (A$128 million) as at 12th February 2018.

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