The Story of Gianluigi & Rafaela Aponte: Billionaire Shipping Moguls

Gianluigi Rafaela Aponte 1


Gianluigi and Rafaela Aponte are a power couple in the maritime industry. They are the founders of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), one of the largest container shipping lines in the world. Gianluigi, also known as “Mr. Aponte,” is the company’s chairman, while Rafaela is a board member and the head of the company’s passenger division. The Apontes are billionaires thanks to their success at MSC, which has made them among the richest people in Switzerland and Italy.

Early Life and Education

Gianluigi Aponte was born on December 2, 1940, in Sorrento, Italy. He was the eldest of five children in a family of mariners, which encouraged his love for the sea. After finishing college, Gianluigi joined the Italian navy and served as an officer for six years. He eventually left the navy and worked for a shipping company in Naples. It was here where he met and married Rafaela Cuomo, who was from a family of shipping magnates.

Rafaela Aponte was born on November 12, 1948, in Ischia, Italy. She grew up in a family that owned several cargo and passenger ships. She studied English and French in school, and went on to study foreign languages and literature at the University of Naples. After finishing college, Rafaela worked for a shipping company in Naples, where she met Gianluigi.

Career and Achievements

In 1970, Gianluigi and Rafaela founded MSC in Brussels, Belgium. The company started out with just one ship, which they bought with money they had saved up. Over the years, they expanded their fleet and established a strong presence in the Mediterranean, North America, and Asia. Today, MSC operates 560 vessels and serves 500 ports around the world. The company is worth an estimated $60 billion and employs over 70,000 people.

Gianluigi is known for his hands-on approach to running the business. He personally oversees the company’s growth and expansion, and is involved in all major decisions. He is also known for his attention to detail and his commitment to customer satisfaction. Under his leadership, MSC has become one of the most successful shipping companies in the world.

Rafaela, on the other hand, heads the company’s passenger division, which operates cruise ships and ferries. She is responsible for MSC’s entry into the cruise market, which has been a huge success. MSC Cruises, the company’s cruise division, is now the third largest cruise line in the world, with 19 ships and a capacity of over 60,000 passengers.

Personal Life

Gianluigi and Rafaela have been married for over 50 years and have two children, Diego and Alexa. Diego is the CEO of MSC Cruises, while Alexa is a board member of the company. The family is based in Geneva, Switzerland, but they also have homes in Naples and on the island of Capri.

The Apontes are well known for their philanthropy. They have donated millions of dollars to various causes, including hospitals, schools, and cultural institutions. They also established the Aponte Foundation in Italy, which supports education and cultural initiatives.


| Name | Born | Country | Sector | Companies | Net Worth (USD) | Forbes URL |
| Gianluigi & Rafaela Aponte | 1940 & 1948 | Italy | Maritime | Mediterranean Shipping Company | $13.7 billion | |

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