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Agfa-Gevaert NV

legal form Naamloze vennootschap
ISIN BE0003755692
founding 1867/1964
Seat Mortsel , Belgium
management Pascal Juéry, President and CEO
Number of employees 10,423 (September 30, 2015)
sales 2.620 billion euros (2014)
Branch Medical technology , professional photography , printing

Agfa advertisement on a railcar of the Lisbon tram , 1999

Agfa is originally a German company in the chemical industry. "AGFA" stands for " A ctien- G SOCIETY f ÜR A Nilin-Fabrication". The company became known to the general public through its photographic products . For decades, Agfa was one of the largest European manufacturers of photographic films and laboratory equipment after the world's leading competitors Kodak and Fujifilm . Cameras and slide projectors were also manufactured for the mass market .

The companies of today's Agfa-Gevaert Group ( Graphics , Materials and Health Care until 2020) concentrate on product areas beyond chemical photography (IT in health care, products for printing and prepress, special photo materials). In 2004, the consumer photography division was spun off into the independent AgfaPhoto GmbH , which went bankrupt in 2005 , whose subsidiary AgfaPhoto Holding has been offering consumer films on the market again since Agfa-Gevaert's licensing rights were first judged in 2007.

Current company structure

Agfa is divided into the following divisions:

  • Agfa Graphics
  • Agfa HealthCare - Sale to Dedalus Holding in May 2020
  • Agfa Specialty Products

Early company history and structure


Rummelsburg factory, 1877

The chemists Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Carl Alexander von Martius (discoverers of the azo dye bismarck brown, which is still used today in textile dyeing ) founded the Gesellschaft für Anilinfabrikation mbH in Rummelsburg near Berlin in 1867 . In 1872 they bought Max August Jordan's chemical factory in Treptow near Berlin, because both companies were active in the same field. The Jordan factory existed since December 11, 1850, it mainly produced end products, in particular dyes, while the Gesellschaft für Anilinfabrikation mbH concentrated on intermediate products. The two companies complemented each other perfectly. From the merger, the Actien-Gesellschaft für Anilin -Fabrication emerged on July 21, 1873 . The name AGFA followed later, it was registered on April 15, 1897 as a trademark for "chemical preparations for photographic purposes". In 1924 the famous "Agfa rhombus" was added as a logo.

For the start of the company, there are three times: 1850, 1867 and 1873, but the establishment of the stock corporation in 1873 is usually regarded as the start. Agfa itself regards its foundation in 1867 as having taken place.


The successful chemical production led to an expansion of the production facilities in Treptow in 1878. In 1882 a scientific laboratory was set up. Because the neighboring properties were all built on, a branch in Greppin followed , which was located in the Bitterfeld brown coal district and thus offered a cheap energy supply. Wage costs in rural areas were also 20% lower. The factory opened on March 17, 1896. Because the air pollution in Berlin, especially the pollution from the steam locomotives on the nearby railway line, made it difficult to produce film material there, an independent film factory was built. The Frankfurt / Mannheim area was also up for discussion, but the company finally bought 25.2 hectares of land near the Wolfen paint factory . Since most of it was in the Wolfen community , the plant was finally called Filmfabrik Wolfen . The plans for the plant were drawn up in March 1909, and on July 19, 1910, the building inspection and approval for the operation of a chemical factory followed. It was the largest European and second largest film factory in the world - after Eastman Kodak in Rochester , USA .

First World War

With the beginning of the First World War , numerous export markets ceased and the demand for X-ray plates and film for aerial photography , the so-called "aviator film", increased. The field cinemas also demanded film material, and windows and filters for respiratory masks were also produced . The number of employees at Agfa Wolfen initially fell from 504 to 335, but then rose to well over 1,000 in the course of the war.

IG colors

In 1885 there were about the manufacture of color Congo to patent litigation with Bayer AG , whereupon agreed on a deal for sharing and future patents. This collaboration resulted in the dye chemistry interest group, the Dreierbund, to which the Actien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrication , Bayer and BASF belonged in 1904 . In 1925 this resulted in IG Farbenindustrie AG . Agfa took over the photochemistry and received the Camerawerk in Munich and the Leverkusen photographic factory, in which photographic papers were made, from Bayer . This Division III of IG Farben had its headquarters in Berlin SO 36 , namely in Treptow, Lohmühlenstrasse, the address of the former Dr. Jordan. Director in Division III was Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy , the son of the company founder of the same name.

In 1928 Ansco Photo Products Inc. was bought, a company founded in New York in 1842. In 1941, however, it was lost again due to a confiscation by the US government.

time of the nationalsocialism

At the time of National Socialism, Agfa used a large number of forced laborers, including concentration camp prisoners in a satellite camp of the Dachau concentration camp . Forced laborers were also used for Agfa AG between 1943 and 1945 in the “Lager Agfa” field office of the youth prison in Munich-Stadelheim. After the war, parts of the Agfa company management were indicted in the IG Farben trial in an American military court.


Agfa trademark in the 1960s

After 1945 the Agfa factories were located in different occupation zones , which made a new merger difficult. In addition, there were forces who absolutely wanted to prevent a merger. The Belgian company Gevaert was particularly interested in a takeover. The Agfa Camerawerk Munich was located in the American occupation zone , the Agfa photographic paper factory Leverkusen in the British occupation zone and the Agfa film factory Wolfen in the Soviet occupation zone . All factories were able to resume production in 1945. In the USA the Agfa-Ansco-Cooperation (Binghamton) took over the sales again. However, this did not affect the Agfa films, as there was now an Ansco film production.

The efforts of Ulrich Haberland's staff in particular ultimately led the High Commissioners to allow Bayer to remain with Bayer. As a result, Agfa AG for photofabrication was founded on April 18, 1952 in Leverkusen. The Allied control of camera production ended on March 18, 1953, so that Agfa-Camerawerk AG was founded on March 20 . In 1957, the two companies were merged to form Agfa AG Leverkusen .

Agfa Wolfen

ORWO logo

The location of the photochemical production was relocated from Treptow to Wolfen around 1909 . After the Second World War , the film factory was first taken over by the US armed forces and then by the Soviet military administration in Germany (SMAD). During this time, the Wolfen film factory was organized as a Soviet joint-stock company to settle the Soviet Union's reparation claims .

Although the Agfa management had transferred all important patents to Leverkusen before the end of the war , the East German counterpart caused major problems for the West German Agfa branch: The Wolfen film factory also sold its products with the Agfa logo, which confused customers. Initially, the East German side took the position of being the legal successor to Agfa. However, this strategy did not stand a chance in court because a Soviet stock corporation could not be a successor.

Surprisingly, the GDR government later did not insist on sticking to the brand name Agfa . Rather, she was of the opinion that the products made by socialists were of such high quality that they did not need a big name to find a market. In Wolfen, however, they did not want to do without the name. Without an agreement between the two parts of the company, however, there was a risk that the rights would fall to a third party. In 1956, for example, a trademark agreement was reached that was to apply until 1964. Accordingly, the Wolfen film factory was allowed to use the brand name in the Eastern Bloc , and Leverkusen in the rest of the world with the exception of France and Yugoslavia. An international court should rule on these two countries. Nevertheless, East German Agfa products repeatedly made it to the West German markets.

After the end of the operational organization as a Soviet stock corporation until 1964, the East German company carried the names VEB Filmfabrik Agfa Wolfen and VEB Film- und Chemiefaserwerk Agfa Wolfen . After 1964, the company in Wolfen was renamed ORWO for Original Wolfen .


Small businesses

Agfa sign on a photo shop in Oettingen , 2009

In order to expand production capacity, Agfa took over several small companies in the 1950s and 1960s that, due to their size, were no longer able to offer competitive products. Because of the increasing labor shortage, all companies, including Agfa, accepted long transport routes in Germany in order to be able to produce a sufficient number of items.

It started in 1952 with UCA - Vereinigte Elektro-Optische Werke GmbH in Flensburg - Mürwik , which began to manufacture viewfinder and even reflex cameras in the former marine engineering school around 1948 . The Hamburg camera manufacturer Iloca-Witt was taken over in 1962, and in 1969 the Dr. Staeble in Altenstadt (Upper Bavaria) , which produced camera and projection lenses.

In order to be able to build all camera shutters and light meters itself, Agfa also worked with watch manufacturers, from 1959 with the Fabrique d'Horologie La Vedette SA in Zabern ( Alsace ) and from 1960 with OSCO watches , Otto Schlud in Schwenningen. Shortly thereafter, Agfa took shares in both companies with 50.24% and 75% respectively. The chemical factory Vaihingen and the gelatine factory vorm also came into Agfa hands . Koepff & Sons , Mimosa and the Leonar-Werke in Hamburg-Wandsbek .

Perutz ("Small Solution")

In 1961 Agfa AG took over 50%, then in 1964 100% of Perutz Photowerke in Munich. Otto Perutz founded this company in 1880; it initially produced photographic plates, and from 1922 also roll films.

Agfa-Gevaert Group ("Big Solution")

If Gevaert intended to take over Agfa at the end of the 1940s, a merger took place: Agfa took over Gevaert and in 1964 the so-called big solution came about: the founding of the Agfa-Gevaert Group. It included Agfa-Gevaert AG, based in Leverkusen, and Gevaert-Agfa NV, based in Mortsel . Gevaert was founded by Lieven Gevaert in Antwerp in 1894 and initially only produced photo paper. For this merger, Agfa had to convert all stakes in third-party companies into its own possession.

In 1981 Bayer AG took over 100 percent of the group. In 1983 the company achieved global sales of DM 5.9 billion (EUR 3.0 billion) and a profit before taxes of DM 291 million (EUR 149 million).

In 1999 Bayer AG listed the company on the stock exchange; since then Agfa-Gevaert AG , Leverkusen, is a subsidiary of Agfa-Gevaert NV, Mortsel / Antwerp (Belgium); Major shareholders are Bayer AG (30%) and Gevaert NV (25%).



Newspaper advertisement for Agfa photo chemicals
Agfacolor Reversal Film T, 1957

Dye chemist Momme Andresen initiated the entry into photochemistry . He joined the company in January 1887 and advised the management to work in the promising field of photography. Andersen had already worked as an amateur photographer, which is why he was familiar with the inadequacies of the wet collodion process. Thereupon he created new developer substances and fixing baths at AGFA, especially the film developer Rodinal in 1888 , who brought great progress in the darkroom. It was a concentrate that only needed to be diluted, whereas previously you had to mix the developer yourself from different powders. Rodinal could also be used more diluted for paper development, it remained in the Agfa program until the end of the photochemical production and is still produced today. At the beginning, F. Krüger, a former chemist of the Actien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation , took over the distribution of Agfa photo products in Frankfurt; In 1889 the company began selling under its own management.

In 1892 Andresen suggested producing drying plates that were precisely matched to the Agfa developer substances and was then commissioned by the management. Jo Sachs & Co (Berlin) was the first company to manufacture drying boards in 1879; their production required extensive development work and the necessary casting systems had to be procured from abroad. Agfa did not get the first plates until May 1894, but there were always problems with soiling, detachment and inconsistent light sensitivity. So it was not until 1898 that the drying plates made a profit. In that year Agfa X-ray plates came onto the market, they were so advanced that they could get by with a quarter of the usual exposure time.

Roll film

The photographic plates were followed by sheet films , the future of which Agfa recognized immediately, since the only advantages of plates were their absolute flatness. On the other hand, there was a very high weight, a large amount of space required for archiving and their fragility. The next step, rolling the films, then caused great difficulties. Kodak was producing roll film as early as 1888 and had improved it considerably by 1896 so that it could be supplied on daylight spool. It remained unrivaled on the market for over a decade. Behind the Kodak film was Hannibal Goodwin , who won a patent dispute with Kodak. At Agfa, they also wanted to create a roll film taking into account the patents, but had to accept setbacks time and again. Although such films were offered in 1900, there was always a reduction in light sensitivity and black spots, which was only noticed by customers and finally led to the temporary cessation of production in 1905.


In the cinematographic films, Agfa had more success. As early as 1901, a self-designed and patented machine was used to manufacture competitive products, which went on sale in 1903. A major problem of the celluloid films of those days was their flammability. In 1908 Agfa presented the first security film and a year later set up a production facility for it in Berlin-Lichtenberg .

Photo accessories

Agfa Tully flash unit

Agfa also produced accessories very early on, from 1904 flash bags for self-filling, followed by flash lamps ( Agfa flash lamp I from 1907), exposure tables and sheet film cassettes.

Creation of the color film

Color slide on Agfa film, early 1940s: chickens in a field near Haselbach , Newton's rings , dust that has penetrated, damage to the emulsion ; relatively good preservation of the colors
Agfa Agfachrome CT18 slide film with original
packaging , expiry date 1981

Grain grid method

In 1909, Agfa began working on color photography , especially with a view to its major competitor Kodak, who did not want to leave this area alone. In 1916, for example, the first plates for color slides based on the grain grid method came out. These plates not only had a very coarse resolution, they also had to be exposed about 80 times longer than the black and white materials of the time. In 1923 new plates appeared with improved color rendering and increased sensitivity, whereupon 30 times the exposure time was sufficient - in sunny summer weather you could work with 1/25 s at f / 4.5. In 1932, with the relocation of production to Wolfen, the name Agfacolor was introduced . Now there were not only plates, but also films using the grain grid method. The 16 mm narrow color film based on the line screen method was also called Agfacolor . In 1936 the highly sensitive Agfacolor Ultra plate was released .

Agfacolor New

Agfa presented the first “real” color film, ie a film with three layers of color, in November 1936. In the early days he called himself Agfacolor Neu to differentiate himself from the grain grid method. This slide film still required a lot of light, its sensitivity was given as 7/10 ° DIN, the 16 mm narrow film version followed in 1937. Already in 1938 it was possible to increase the sensitivity to 15/10 ° DIN, which is after today's specification corresponds approximately to ISO 16/13 °. In addition, a variant for artificial light appeared, which was often used for studio photography, since people usually still worked with nitraphot lamps .

Negative film

While color photography initially had to be limited to slide films, Agfa also worked on colored paper images. A negative film went into production in 1939, but initially only for the cinema - there you needed negative films to make copies. At the Dresden “Film and Color” conference in 1942, the process using negative film for colored paper images was officially presented. It went into production in Leverkusen in 1949, and from January 1950 the photo dealers accepted films for development and enlargement.

Feature films

The first colored, but only two-tone Agfa film was premiered on December 10, 1931, it was the UFA - cultural film Colorful Animal World , which was made using the so-called "Ufacolor" process. With Agfa Color New one turned in 1939 initially for a short promotional, cultural and sample films, the first feature-length film Women Are Better Diplomats had its premiere on 31 October 1941 he was followed until the war ended twelve feature films. As the first Agfacolor feature film after the war, Black Forest Girl premiered on September 7, 1950 .

Chemical products (without photo chemistry)

Professional magnetic tape, 1970s

In the early days, the Actien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation mainly sold aniline dyes in small glass bottles, which were used to dye fabrics . Initially it was mainly blue and red tones in many shades, in 1877 the fashion trend shifted to green. You could make big profits with the malachite green because you held a patent for its production and competing companies didn't have anything on offer.

In 1913, inks made up 65% of sales, followed by 26% film materials, 7.7% intermediate products and 1.3% pharmaceuticals.

In 1943, BASF's magnetic tape production was relocated to Wolfen, whereupon it came into the hands of Agfa. So it happened that they continued after the war and offered tapes again , later also music and video cassettes . In 1991 the production was sold to BASF. This turned out to be an ideal time, a short time later one could no longer make profits with magnetic tapes.

Camerawerk Munich

Optical institute Alexander Heinrich Rietzschel

Alexander Heinrich Rietzschel, around 1900

The origins of the Agfa Camerawerk lie in the Alexander Heinrich Rietzschel optical institute founded in 1896.

Rietzschel was born in Dresden in 1860 and completed an apprenticeship as a precision mechanic and optician at Carl Zeiss in Jena before moving to Munich in 1886. There he worked first at the lens manufacturer CA Steinheil & Sons , then at Rodenstock GmbH . In 1896 he finally founded his own optical company at Gabelsbergerstraße  36/37. The success of this company was based primarily on the Linear 4.5 lens , for which Rietzschel received a patent in 1898. A camera followed with the Clack 1900 , whereby the company was renamed Alexander Heinrich Rietzschel GmbH, Factory of Photographic Apparatus and Lenses and the company headquarters was now at Schillerstraße 28. The camera production went so well that the number of employees was 100 after just one year, a patent for all-metal camera housings from 1905 brought even more success. Rietzschel cameras were hardly recognizable, they did not have a name tag, only the lens labeling indicated the manufacturer.

Directed by Bayer

At the beginning of the First World War, around 200 employees worked at Rietzschel, but they could not be kept because no armaments were manufactured. In 1919 the company started working again with 100 employees, but it was difficult to finance the company. The company founder then looked around for a partner, which was heard from the Bayer AG sales office in Munich and reported to the head office. On March 1, 1921, Bayer took over a stake of 80%, but the existing product range and the name Rietzschel remained, since the management had enough to do with guiding Bayer safely through the period of great inflation. Bruno Uhl, a 26-year-old businessman who previously worked in the photography department at Bayer in Leverkusen, represented Bayer's interests. He succeeded in increasing the annual production from 3,700 to 6,500 cameras, which was mainly due to increased exports. In 1924 Bayer increased its stake to 100% and appointed Bruno Uhl as director. Now 250 employees are already producing 10,700 cameras annually.

Transition to the Agfa Camerawerk

With the founding of IG Farben AG on December 10, 1925, all photographic activities came to Agfa, including the Optical Institute, which was renamed Agfa Camerawerk Munich , the cameras now naturally bore the Agfa rhombus, only the lenses were still called one Rietzschel for a while. Bruno Uhl went to Berlin as head of the “Photo Sales Germany” department, where he caused sensational advertising campaigns (see also Agfa Box ); he was followed by Oskar Becker, who previously worked as operations manager in Berlin. Alexander Heinrich Rietzschel, now 66 years old, retired.

In 1969, the Peißenberg and Peiting branches were founded in Upper Bavaria . They were mainly used to manufacture equipment. For this region it meant new jobs after the coal mines were closed . In Peißenberg, the specialist devices for medical and print preparation technology were manufactured, and in Peiting, the large-scale laboratory devices. Both production sites operated their own parts production for the main technologies of the parts spectrum. For cost reasons, these were gradually replaced by outsourcing .

Product range

The product range of the Camerawerk Munich was given the slogan Everything from a single source , so not only cameras rolled off the production line, but also projectors and accessories such as slide viewers. In the case of cameras, the focus was on promoting sales of film materials. As a result, there were virtually no cameras with interchangeable lenses from Agfa, while models with simple operation were in the foreground, in order to induce the technically ignorant to take photos. As far as possible everything was produced in-house at the Camerawerk, including the lenses and light meters.

Demonstration model of the Agfa Ambi-Silette

In contrast to other German manufacturers, especially Leica and Rollei , the Agfa cameras are only insufficiently documented. The factory records sometimes contradict each other with the production time, they do not give production numbers at all. There is only a tabular overview in Günther Kadlubek's corporate documentation.

Hatchback Schultes design

The Schlagheck Schultes Design studio, founded in 1967, has designed all Agfa cameras since then. The new line continued the tradition of the Bauhaus and was extremely successful. This was especially true for the extremely successful Pocket series. Herbert H. Schultes (* 1938), after studying engineering and design, initially worked in the design department of Siemens and founded the industrial design course at Munich University of Applied Sciences before co- founding Schlagheck Schultes Design . Norbert Schlagheck (* 1925) studied at the Folkwang School in Essen and was head of the home appliances design group at Siemens before it was founded . From 1967 to 1970 he headed the industrial design department at the Cologne factory schools , and in 1972 he was appointed professor for industrial design at the Munich University of Applied Sciences.

Photo camera series


From 1960 to 1974 binoculars were also included in the range, the Agfa prism binoculars 8 × 30 cost 138 DM, until 1967 there was also a 10 × 40 version of it.

Slide projectors

Agfa also manufactured a range of slide projectors . Early models had names like Karator (3, U), Opticus 100 or Agfacolor 50 automatic . The newer series was the DIAMATOR series - first designated with letters ( Agfa DIAMATOR H ), then with numbers ( DIAMATOR 1500 ). Automatic projectors were offered as well as systems that adapt to the thermal warping of slides (CS: curved slide ). The projection lenses were usually named Agomar .

In 1984 the Agfa-Gevaert factory in Coimbra (Portugal), which produced Agfa slide projectors, was transferred to the company reflecta. Reflecta continues to sell the projection lenses under the name reflecta Agomar .

Photo lab equipment

Laboratory clock with signal bell
Agfa handmade paper cutting machine (approx. 1950)
Agfa daylight developing tank Rondinax 35U for 35mm film

It has hardly been documented that in addition to a series of professional photo laboratory equipment for commercial photo laboratories and photo drugstores, Agfa also manufactured high-quality enlargers , darkroom lighting and accessories for private photo laboratories. In their time revolutionary new developments were, for example, the Agfa Varioscop enlarger with the first available on the market continuously adjustable color head and autofocus (autofocus), the first fully automatic exposure setting for color work Agfa Variomat C and the daylight development cans Agfa Rondix and Agfa Rondinax , with which films could be developed in subdued daylight without a dark phase.

Flatbed scanner

Until 2001, AGFA produced flatbed scanners (SnapScan, DuoScan) with SCSI and USB interfaces for home and professional use.

End of camera production

Laboratory thermometer

In 1982 the CEO Andre Leysen wanted to close the "Camerawerk Munich". For cost reasons and because of a loss of around DM 226 million in 1981, the company's own camera production facilities in Munich , Rottenburg an der Laaber and in Coimbra ( Portugal ) were discontinued, but device production was continued because there were still good products in the pipeline . Around 3,800 employees were affected, 3,200 of them in Munich. The tools of the last Optima with a hinged flash came to the Chinese city of Qingdao , where they were produced there in a slightly modified form as "Qingdao-6" with the solitar lens.

In 1983 the cooperation with the Japanese company Nihon Densan Copal began in the minilab segment . Copal developed and produced the complete machine body with the integrated wet part for developing paper images. The film input area with the integrated film scanner was developed, produced and provided by Agfa. The customers' exposed negative films were usually developed in a special machine in the laboratory before they were copied.

In 1990 a subsidiary was founded in Gera as a GmbH and in 1991 became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Agfa-Gevaert AG. This company consisted of a development and production area for the laboratory equipment division. As part of the sale of the imaging division to the new company Agfa Photo and as a result of its insolvency in 2004, the local management bought and took over the sub-company in 2005 and continued it under the name Askion GmbH .

In 2006 AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH issued a license to plawa-feinwerktechnik GmbH . Their business activities continued under the AgfaPhoto digital camera brand . At the beginning of 2007 AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH decided to extend the license to the main markets worldwide. Plawa then also received the rights to manufacture and sell digital video and single-lens reflex cameras under the AgfaPhoto brand .

Current company history and structure ("after photo chemistry")

Headquarters in Mortsel, 2006

In 1999 Bayer AG listed the company on the stock exchange; since then, Agfa-Gevaert AG Leverkusen has been a subsidiary of Agfa-Gevaert NV Mortsel / Antwerp (Belgium); Major shareholders are Bayer AG (30%) and Gevaert NV (25%). In 2000 net sales were € 5.26 billion. The share of sales in the photo division was around 1.25 billion euros and fell to 693 million euros by 2004.

After Agfa had determined internal costs of 480 million euros for the closure of the high-deficit photo division in 2004, Agfa-Gevaert formally separated from the film and photo paper production in August 2004. This business area was sold to an investment company owned by a former McKinsey consultant for a reported EUR 175 million . However, the purchase price for the actual photo division was actually only 2 million euros, while the price had to be paid for a leasing portfolio that was also transferred. But after only nine months, both the equity of 300 million euros and the cash reserves of 72 million euros were used up. The product name AgfaPhoto was allowed to be used by the newly created Agfaphoto-Holding GmbH, but not by its subsidiary Agfaphoto GmbH, for an unlimited period of time, which from November 1, 2004 as a formally independent, but still organizationally closely connected company with production facilities in Leverkusen, Cologne , Munich, Peiting, Windhagen ( Rhineland-Palatinate ) and Vaihingen an der Enz ( Baden-Württemberg ).

At the beginning of 2005, the Belgian Agfa-Gevaert Group bought GWI AG Bonn (now Agfa HealthCare GmbH), making it the market leader in Germany in the field of hospital information systems (HIS) with the GWI product ORBIS . This acquisition underscores the consistent focus on the Healthcare division . In 2020, Agfa will sell its healthcare market segment to Dedalus Holding for a transaction price of 975 million euros.

On May 20, 2005, AgfaPhoto GmbH surprisingly submitted an application to the Cologne District Court to open insolvency proceedings in self-administration due to insolvency and subsequently appointed the insolvency administrator Hans-Gerd Jauch as managing director. Until then, the company had always been rated as solid by external observers. According to press reports, the boom in digital photography and the associated drop in prices in the film sector as well as the inadequate liquidity of the transferred business division were the undoing of the film and photo paper manufacturer . Another reason might have been the complexity of the factual separation of the photos division from Agfa, which was only to take place gradually after the sale.

The attempt to sell the insolvent AgfaPhoto GmbH as a whole failed. Takeover negotiations in 2005 with the financial investor Cerberus Capital Management had failed because the necessary licensing for re-use of the brand Agfa Agfa-Gevaert, which still held the rights to the brand that was refused. It was only in December 2007 that the insolvent AgfaPhoto Holding won the legal battle against the former parent company. Most recently, the British Photo-Me , the world's largest operator of photo booths , submitted an offer that was rejected by the management and the creditors' committee. The offer was particularly unacceptable because Photo-Me did not want to give any valuable guarantees to take over 400 of the 1,050 employees remaining at the time of sale. After AgfaPhoto Holding won the legal dispute over the licensing against the former parent company in December 2007, AgfaPhoto Holding now wants to enforce legal claims for damages against Agfa-Gevaert for the allegedly intentional insolvency of AgfaPhoto GmbH , in addition to a globally extended licensing strategy assumes an "estimated 200 million euro minimum".

On October 19, 2005, the liquidation of AgfaPhoto GmbH by December 31, 2005 was announced. In total, more than 1,700 employees were affected by the bankruptcy. However, there were various interested parties for individual parts of the company. Competitor Fujifilm, for example, expressed interest in large-scale laboratory equipment production in Peiting.

October 30, 2005, excerpt from the press release of AgfaPhoto GmbH:

"[...] The a & o-Group based in Neuss and Potsdam is acquiring the service and spare parts business, which is mainly based in Munich, from AgfaPhoto GmbH, as well as the necessary photochemistry division in Vaihingen / Enz The Imaging Solutions Group takes over with around 60 employees. Imaging Solutions is a subsidiary of the British photo booth manufacturer Photo-Me International [...] "

On November 17, 2005 it became known that the ailing Belgian imaging group Agfa-Gevaert NV posted a significant loss in the third quarter with a net loss of EUR 108 million or 85 cents per share after a profit in the same period of the previous year, with the liquidation of AgfaPhoto in particular negatively impacted earnings with expenses of EUR 109 million.

On February 17, 2006 it was published that the mini laboratory equipment division with the production in Peiting had been sold on February 14, 2006 to Minilab Factory GmbH , Dresden . Production is to be resumed and certain products are to be further developed. Minilab Factory GmbH was founded on February 10, 2006. The companies Saxonia Systems AG , Dresden and Foto + Minilaborsysteme R. Saal GmbH , Röttenbach are equally involved.

Time-lapse shot of the demolition of the AGFA high-rise in Munich, 2008

Agfa-Gevaert announced on February 28, 2007 that the company would be split into three companies during the course of the year and then floated on the stock exchange. For 2008, the Agfa Graphics division expects sales of 1.9 billion euros. Agfa HealthCare plans to turn over EUR 1.7 billion and Agfa Materials EUR 700 million. The split of the group puts the individual divisions in a position to strengthen the leading position in their markets, said Agfa-Gevaert boss Marc Olivie according to In the meantime, the individual divisions operate independently under the umbrella of Agfa-Gevaert NV, but were not individually listed on the stock exchange.

From October 2007 the Agfa factory in Munich was demolished. The last thing that was blown up was the 50 m high Agfa high-rise in Munich-Giesing, built in the 1950s, on February 17, 2008.

"AgfaPhoto" color film with expiration date 2018 and manufactured in Japan by Lupus Imaging & Media sold

Agfa's film division continued to be operated under license by Lupus Imaging & Media , Cologne, at least for some time . In doing so, they initially fell back on Agfa remnants, which were later sold under the AgfaPhoto brand . After the Agfa film stocks ran out, they switched to third-party products; color film was supplied by Fujifilm , black and white film by Ilford Photo (Harman Technologies) . Agfa industrial film products are based on consumer / professional film products of the time and are still produced today (2013) by Agfa-Gevaert in Belgium, but are only available in retail outlets through photo chemistry distributors under their own brand names.

AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH has been granting licenses to several companies to use the brand since 2006, for example Sagem Télécommunications (digital picture frames and photo printers ) and Plawa-Feinwerktechnik GmbH (digital photo and video cameras) in 2006 and 3T Supplies AG in 2007 (Printer ink and photo paper). AgfaPhoto Holding itself receives licenses from Agfa-Gevaert NV to use the AgfaPhoto brand name .


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  • Karlsch, Rainer: From Agfa to ORWO. The consequences of the division of Germany for the Wolfen film factory. Wolfen 1992
  • Günther Kadlubek: AGFA. History of a German global company from 1867 to 1997. Lindemanns, 2004
  • Albert Nürnberg: Agfa photographic materials for science and technology. Properties and areas of application, aids and processing instructions. Knapp, Halle 1954
  • Erich Stenger : 100 Years of Photography and Agfa 1839–1939 . Knorr & Hirth, Munich 1939
  • Piece from the madhouse - why is Agfaphoto suddenly insolvent? In: Capital No. 24/2005, p. 54 ff.

First films from everyday life under National Socialism

  • Color films from Bavaria - “Years of Seduction” 1931–1939. 44 min, BR 2019. Directed by Despina Grammatikopulu and Michaela Wilhelm-Fischer . Documentation of the creation and background of the film (from Munich, Dachau and other Bavarian locations, for example: everyday pictures, Hitler appearances, pageant 2000 years of German culture - 1939, family close to the Nazi regime with access to Agfa film material)
  • Years of decline 1939–1945. Documentation. 39 min. (Including information from research on the post-war period by those involved) Technical details as before. BR 2019.

Web links

Commons : Agfa-Gevaert  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b
  2. ^ History - Agfa Corporate. Retrieved October 2, 2017 (American English).
  3. Field office "Camp Agfa" of the youth prison in Munich-Stadelheim at Agfa AG. In: Federal Archives. Retrieved July 20, 2019 .
  4. Kodak itself heralded the decline in a Handelsblatt January 5, 2012, accessed on June 10, 2017
  5. kma Online, accessed online on August 26, 2020 | 11:39 a.m. - available online
  6. a b AgfaPhoto Holding wins with license  ( page can no longer be accessed , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: Rheinische Post-Online. December 13, 2007.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  7. Agfa film products at Lupus Imaging & Media ( Memento from October 11, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  8. ^ Films by Agfa-Gevaert on, accessed on June 10, 2017
  9. Manuel Schramm: Review of Silke Fengler: Developed and fixed. On the corporate and technical history of the German photo industry, illustrated using the example of Agfa AG Leverkusen and VEB Filmfabrik Wolfen (1945–1995). Essen 2009 In: H-Soz-u-Kult January 28, 2010, accessed June 10, 2017
  10. Piece from the madhouse - Why is Agfaphoto suddenly insolvent? An analysis reveals the background. She settles accounts with the former parent company Agfa Gevaert and the management. Payable at, accessed on June 10, 2017