FAAC: Church-owned gatemaker would boost Italian IPOs

The gates to heaven might be made of pearls; they may also be electric. Catholic Church-owned FAAC could soon list in Milan, according to reports on Tuesday. A deal for the automatic-gate manufacturer would take advantage of stimulus measures to boost construction. It would also lift Italy’s struggling initial public offerings market.

FAAC’s history can be traced back to the 1960s, as one of the earliest manufacturers of automatic gates for homes and parking garages. FAAC came under the ownership of the Church after founder’s son Michelangelo Manini bequeathed a majority stake to the Archdiocese of Bologna following his death in 2012. Under its ownership, FAAC has grown though acquisitions, expanding its range of access control products for home and commercial markets.

A booming US housing market is supportive. New single family homes are under construction at the highest rate since the financial crisis. Homeworking trends are expected to continue boosting home-improvement spending.

Counter-intuitively, those same trends may also lift spending on commercial office buildings. Landlords forced into subletting and leasing flexible space will need to invest in the longer term to reconfigure space. Government support for greener buildings in both the US and Europe will help too.

Financial details are limited but group revenues were stated as €620m last year. A comparison with larger listed peers such as Assa Abloy and Allegion suggests organic growth in the region of 6 per cent per year and operating margins of 20 per cent. At a similar trading multiple to those peers of 20 times this year’s expected operating income, FAAC might reach a valuation of almost €3bn, according to Lex’s estimates.

Against a backdrop of political and economic crisis, Italian IPOs raised just $800m last year, the lowest since 2012 and well behind the almost $8bn in the UK. The UK has also already surpassed that amount in 2021, according to Dealogic. A little intervention from the Catholic Church would help redress that balance in Italy’s favour. 

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