‘Why Flamini kept his billion-dollar idea a secret’
A bench-warmer on one of Europe’s biggest soccer teams might be worth more than the American billionaire who owns the team — and he kept his fortune a secret from his friends, family and teammates for seven years.
Mathieu Flamini, a 31-year-old Frenchman who currently plays for Arsenal, secretly created a company that made a scientific breakthrough that could bring an end to the use of fossil fuels.
Flamini’s company, GF Biochemicals, announced on Monday it had figured out how to mass-produce levulinic acid, an organic compound that can replace oil in all of its many forms.
In theory, GF Biochemicals’ discovery means an end to gasoline, biofuels and plastics as we know them. It also means Flamini’s company could be the first entrant in a brand new market worth upward of $30 billion.
Not bad for a guy who once jilted Arsenal for Italian giants AC Milan back in 2008. At the time, Flamini was the engine of Arsenal’s midfield, but left the club after failing to negotiate a new contract.
He signed with Milan, but failed to impress his new club and was relegated to the bench. With his newfound free time, the Frenchman focused on his non-soccer interests — one of which was the environment.
He soon met Pasquale Granata and the pair secretly started GF Biochemicals — GF stands for Granata-Flamini — with Flamini personally pumping millions into the new venture.
According to Flamini, “For seven years, I haven’t mentioned it to anyone,” the Arsenal man told London’s The Sun in a lengthy interview. “I was always close to nature and concerned about environmental issues, climate change and global warming. [Granata] was on the same wavelength. We were looking how we could make a contribution to the problem. After a while, we found out about levulinic acid. It’s a molecule identified by the US Department of Energy as one of the 12 molecules with the potential to replace petrol in all its forms.
“We financed the research by the Milan Polytechnic. After several months we came up with the technology of how to produce LA on an industrial scale, meaning cheaply and cost-effectively. We patented it.”
With patent in hand, GF Biochemicals started building chemical plants. The company now employs 400 people.
Flamini, however, didn’t tell the public, or his teammates, about his side career until Monday.
“My Milan teammates probably found out in our launch this week, and my Arsenal teammates will probably find out reading this,” he said. “I don’t think [Arsenal manager] Arsene Wenger knows. I never spoke to him about it. I wanted it to be all in place first, up and running and announce it when I was ready.”
Flamini returned to Arsenal in 2013 following his unsuccessful spell in Italy.
Culled from yahoonews