|legal form||Limited partnership|
|founding||November 1, 1840|
Board of Directors :
|Number of employees||more than 1,100|
|sales||696.9 million EUR (2016)|
|Branch||Distribution and specialty chemicals|
Behn Meyer is a family business founded in Singapore in 1840 as an overseas trading company , which today develops, manufactures and distributes specialty chemicals . The seat is in Hamburg , the focus of activities is in Southeast Asia . The group has 28 branches , 38 warehouses and several production facilities in more than 14 countries in Asia , Europe and North America . The group divides its core business into four areas: AgriCare ( fertilizer and crop protection); Ingredients ( additives for the food and pet food industry ); Performance Chemicals (additives for the chemical industry ) and Polymers (additives for the rubber industry).
From the beginning to the First World War
Theodor August Behn reached Singapore on July 5, 1839 as a supercargo for a Bremen trading company, for which he did business. There he also acted for his own account and took advantage of the business opportunities offered by the outbreak of the First Opium War . His friend Valentin Lorenz Meyer arrived in Singapore on November 1, 1840. This day is considered the founding date of Behn Meyer & Co . It was the first German trading house in Singapore.
|Company development timeline|
|1840||Establishment of Behn, Meyer & Co. in Singapore|
|1857||Foundation of Arnold Otto Meyer in Hamburg|
Arnold Otto Meyer acts as a holding company and controls
the business from Hamburg
|1914||The group is the largest German overseas trading company
and the largest German shipping agency in Southeast Asia
|1929||The group is hit hard by the global economic crisis|
|1939||The Second World War severely restricted
|1945||Loss of all assets in Southeast Asia.
Resumption of trading from Hamburg
|1953||Resumption of trade in Jakarta|
|1955||Resumption of trade in Singapore|
|1965||Opening of an office in Jamaica|
|1997||Construction of the first production facility and the
first warehouse in Malaysia (North Borneo)
|1998||Establishment of Behn Meyer Europe GmbH|
|1999||Foundation of Performance Additives|
|2000||Renaming of the holding company to Behn Meyer
Deutschland Holding AG & Co. KG
Establishment of Behn Meyer Holding AG
|2011||Opening of a production facility in the USA
Takeover of Flexsys (Italy)
Behn Meyer Agricare opens a
production facility in East Malaysia
|2016||Acquisition of Intracare (Netherlands)|
The company acted on behalf of other companies ( commission business ) and for its own account. Regional products such as Chinese cinnamon , ginger , camphor , anise , silk goods , tea , porcelain , coffee , indigo , sappane wood , tobacco , manila hemp , pepper , nutmeg , gambir , sago , buffalo horns , mussels , gutta-percha , rattan and rice played a major role . In addition, European goods were sold in Southeast Asian ports, with coal from England becoming particularly important for Southeast Asian shipping.
In 1848 Valentin Lorenz Meyer left Singapore for Hamburg and left the partnership at the end of 1849. In his place, his brother Arnold Otto Meyer received a minority stake in the company and went to Singapore. Mid-1852 returned Behn also returned to Hamburg and represented there, the business interests of Behn Meyer & Co . On May 8, 1857, Arnold Otto Meyer also arrived in Hamburg to found the company of the same name on June 1, 1857. Just one year later, the consequences of the economic crisis of 1857 threatened Behn, Meyer & Co.'s existence. Arnold Otto Meyer initially looked after the solvency of Arnold Otto Meyer and Behn, Meyer & Co. in Hamburg . In 1862 he went to Singapore again for two years and drove business from there.
Cautious but steady business ensured until the beginning of World War I for the growth of both companies, with Arnold Otto Meyer for many decades undertook long do business on their own account, but as Agent , Paying Agent and buyers for Behn, Meyer & Co. occurred. In 1906 the company Behn, Meyer & Co took control . however, on Arnold Otto Meyer . From now on, the fate of the group was determined from the metropolis on the Elbe.
The company expanded in the first decade and a half of the 20th century. Offices and branches were opened in many countries in Southeast Asia, such as Manila ( Philippines ) in 1900 , Sandakan (North Borneo) in 1901 and in Batavia ( Dutch India ), in Zamboanga , Ilo Ilo and Cebu (all of the Philippines) in 1906 and in 1907 in Bangkok ( Siam ). By 1914, the group had eleven offices in Southeast Asia and the Far East including Hong Kong , Canton and Shanghai . In addition to trade, the shipping agencies operated by Behn, Meyer & Co. contributed to this success . Other important lines of business were the plantation economy (participation in the Straits and Sunda Syndicate ), insurance and the tin business. When the war broke out in 1914, the group was the largest German trading company in Southeast Asia and also operated the largest shipping agency there.
First World War, Interwar Period, Second World War
During the First World War, Behn, Meyer & Co. lost buildings and assets in Singapore, Malaya and the Philippines because the authorities of the war opponents confiscated and auctioned them . The losses amounted to 12 million Reichsmarks . Many employees were interned and some lost their lives during the war.
In the 1920s it managed to regain a strong position in Southeast Asia. After the end of the war, the starting point was the establishment of a company under Dutch law in Amsterdam and the operational business in the Dutch East Indies through the NV Straits Java Trading Co. After overcoming the post-war problems, the group again had 14 branches in Southeast Asia. She succeeded in gaining the right to exclusively represent well-known companies. Such agencies existed, for example, for IG Farben , Beiersdorf AG , Humboldt-Deutzmotoren AG , for Agfa , for the Beck brewery , the Elbschloss brewery , Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik , Gruschwitz Textilwerke or for Ford in the Dutch East Indies.
In 1925 Arnold Otto Meyer took over the overseas export trading companies of the Hugo Stinnes Group . This gave the group market access in South Africa , South America ( Argentina , Colombia and Chile ) and in China .
The company was hit hard by the global economic crisis . In 1929 it had equity of 14 million Reichsmarks, the equity ratio was 36 percent. These values quickly melted together in the crisis because imports and exports decreased worldwide . At the end of 1932, equity capital was only 2 million Reichsmarks with a balance sheet total of 16 million Reichsmarks; the company's debts at that time amounted to 14.5 million Reichsmarks.
After the National Socialists came to power , the state supported distressed overseas trading companies through sham holdings: holdings were not paid in (and the state thus became a limited partner ), but provided in the form of bill discount facilities . In fact, these instruments acted as state security for loans. The price for this support turned out to be a high interest burden on the group of companies, whose business remained burdened by the NS policy of self-sufficiency . A renovation did not take place until 1939. The settlement of the credit burdens extended well into the post-war period and was only successful in 1958/1962.
" Aryanizations " became a hallmark of Nazi economic policy and part of the National Socialist persecution of Jews . In 1938 Arnold Otto Meyer acquired the tanning department of the company Blau & Schindler, founded in Hamburg in 1877, by the Jewish owners Ernst Blau and Theodor Schindler, who were forced to emigrate and go to England. According to Fritz Kleinsteuber's company chronicle commissioned by Behn Meyer, Arnold Otto Meyer paid the desired purchase price, took over the employees and opened a new department for tanning agents.
After the start of the Second World War , the group's business volume decreased more and more because market access was blocked. The development of new markets in the areas conquered by the Wehrmacht did nothing to change this trend. For example, such attempts in the Ukraine under the direction of Lothar Danner remained unsuccessful. As in the First World War, many employees were interned overseas. During the air raids on Hamburg , bombs hit the office buildings on Alsterdamm (house numbers 1 and 2) and in Ferdinandstrasse (no. 2). Only offices in Kontorhaus Alsterdamm 1, called Haus Alsterblick , and in Ferdinandstrasse 2 could be used.
1950s to late 1990s
After the end of the war, the company's Hamburg headquarters were retained. However, all overseas possessions were lost. Arnold Otto Meyer initially worked within the British occupation zone in the scrap trade and in the sale of anti-rust paint. Because German companies were barred from doing business in Malaya and Singapore for ten years , the company's economic recovery was achieved with the support of a long-standing British business partner ( Paterson, Simons & Co. ) who ran Behn, Meyer & Co. and NV Straits Java Trading Co. was concerned. In addition, Arnold Otto Meyer founded a Danish company together with AP Møller , which was able to initiate business in Indonesia because Denmark recognized the young state at an early stage and Danish companies were active there. In 1953 the company opened a branch in Jakarta . Singapore followed in 1955. In 1958 the group established its own offices in Kuala Lumpur and Penang . At the end of the 1950s, Behn, Meyer & Co. was once again considered the leading German trading company in Southeast Asia.
The range of goods in the export business had expanded considerably. It included capital goods , textiles , paints , chemicals , hardware , bicycle parts , optical devices, cameras and much more. Once again it was possible to be entrusted with a number of agencies. The company acted as a sales base and service provider for the respective companies. These companies included those with which they had been associated since the interwar period , for example Bayer , BASF , Hoechst and Degussa , but also new ones such as Telefunken , Olympia , Kao Corporation , Jungbunzlauer , Dumex , Röhm & Haas and Munck .
Arnold Otto Meyer was represented in South Africa with a subsidiary from 1952. Ten years later the confiscated, former Stinnes assets flowed back there. The group appeared there from 1988 under the name Bellstedt and stayed in the country until the end of the 1990s. In 1950 Arnold Otto Meyer took over the role of a limited partner at Wm. O'Swald , a company that had been trading in and with East Africa for more than 100 years . Arnold Otto Meyer took it over in the second half of the 1960s. However, business success failed to materialize, so that the East Africa business was given up in the 1960s. In 1965 Arnold Otto Meyer set up a branch in Jamaica . The Caribbean business continues to this day, but now from Hamburg.
1982, 125 years after Arnold Otto Meyer was founded , more than 100 employees worked for the group in Hamburg; in Asia, South Africa and the Caribbean, a total of around 900 people were added. At that time, the group achieved external sales of almost one billion DM .
The 1980s and 1990s presented the group of companies with considerable challenges. The environment changed so profoundly that the traditional business model became increasingly obsolete . On the one hand, technical innovations ensured that certain products and brands disappeared from the market (example: office machines from Olympia ). On the other hand, the manufacturers or brand owners themselves expanded overseas and set up their own sales companies or production facilities there - agencies were no longer needed. In addition, the importance of wholesalers and overseas traders decreased because providers and customers were able to communicate with each other faster and more transparently. What began with self-dialing devices in telephone traffic continued with the fax , and finally resulted in completely new direct relationships with the Internet .
Not only the export business came under pressure. The import of goods to Germany and Europe also changed. While the tin business proved to be very profitable until the 1970s , it declined more and more due to direct purchases by customers from producers. The traditional import of rubber was also discontinued by the group at the end of the 1990s. The same applied to other tropical products.
There were two additional burdens: on the one hand, the group's attempts to get into engineering did not pay off; the technology and systems business, which began primarily in the 1970s, turned out to be largely loss-making. On the other hand, imported canned fruit and vegetables resulted in existential losses in the 1990s; the high price pressure in food wholesaling , deficiencies in logistics and significantly excessively large stocks are the causes.
The company since the late 1990s
During this crisis, the executives checked costs, personnel, structures and processes. They realigned the company. The activities in technical areas and engineering were given up, as was the distribution of goods for end users . Instead, the business now focused on chemical products. The group benefited from having decades of experience in the chemicals trade. Since the 1960s, this applied increasingly to the import and distribution of fertilizers , pesticides and insecticides . It was also helpful that Malaysia and Indonesia had relied heavily on oil palms since the 1960s and the company was able to offer special fertilizers here, in particular nitrophoska . The longstanding cooperation with FELDA (1980–2009) also promoted the company's position and reputation in Malaysia. In 1997 it acquired land in Sandakan (Malaysia) and erected a building complex there for the storage and processing of fertilizers.
The business with additives for rubber processing emerged from the collaboration with Schill + Seilacher in the 1990s. The polymers business also developed from this root . Performance Additives was founded in Malaysia in 1999 . This company produces and sells additives for the rubber and plastics industry . The Ingredients division also took shape. Here the group offers additives for the food industry , for animal feed and for cosmetics . In addition, Performance Chemicals was set up, a wide range of products for coatings , for the petrochemical and petrochemical industry , for leather and textiles, and for water treatment .
The Arnold Otto Meyer holding changed its name in 1999/2000 and has been called Behn Meyer Deutschland Holding AG & Co KG since then . Furthermore, Behn Meyer Holding AG has been appointed managing partner with sole management authority ( general partner ). The aim was to give the entire company a name that was as uniform as possible. The operative trading business in Europe has been operating under Behn Meyer Europe GmbH since 1998 .
In 2003 Behn Meyer Europe opened a branch in Amsterdam. In West Malaysia, 20,000 m² of land was acquired in Pasir Gudang in 2008 in order to build a new warehouse and processing facility. In 2010 a research and development center opened in Subang Jaya . Similar facilities also exist in Ho Chi Minh City ( Vietnam ) as well as in Indonesia and Thailand. In 2011 a Filipino subsidiary of the group started operations. At the same time, a new manufacturing facility in New Philadelphia, Ohio began producing bitumen- based additives; Customers for these products are primarily located in European and Asia-Pacific markets. Also in 2011, the Flexsys group in Termoli ( Italy ) acquired. Flexsys has been renamed Performance Additives Italy . Highly specialized chemicals are manufactured at this Adria location, the customers of which are mainly in the automotive , rubber and latex industries . As a result of acquisitions, Behn Meyer has had locations in Qingdao , Shanghai and Taipei since 2013 . In 2014 Behn Meyer Agricare opened a production facility in Lahad Datu , East Malaysia / Borneo.
In Myanmar , the Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation (MAPCO) and BMM Venture - a joint venture between Behn Meyer AgriCare and Mitsui - agreed to set up and operate a joint import, production and sales company for fertilizers, Agri First . Behn Meyer also acquired shares in Intracare in the Netherlands in 2016 . This company, based in Veghel, is a specialist in hygiene products and antibiotics substitutes in animal nutrition.
Current structures and characteristics
The operational business of the group is spread across different companies in different countries. The overall management of the group lies with Behn Meyer Holding AG , based in Hamburg, which acts as general partner of Behn Meyer Deutschland Holding AG & Co KG (based in Hamburg).
The company's focus on the agricultural and chemical business is reflected in the corresponding holdings: Behn Meyer Agricare Holding (S) Pte. Ltd. and Behn Meyer Chemicals Holding (S) Pte. Ltd. , both based in Singapore. Most of the operating subsidiaries are grouped under these two roofs.
The Behn Meyer Europe GmbH operates primarily as a European distributor of the products of the Behn Meyer Group. The focus is on the rubber business.
Performance Additives is a subsidiary of Behn Meyer Chemicals Holding (S) Pte. Ltd. and under this name, as part of the Behn Meyer Group, is responsible for the production and marketing of the corresponding additives and active ingredients that are in demand by the rubber and plastics industry.
Joint ventures and shares
A joint venture exists with Mitsui . The aim is to develop the fertilizer business together with MAPCO in Myanmar. This is why the Agri First company was founded. Behn Meyer is also a shareholder in Intracare in the Netherlands.
The group divides its core business into four areas:
- AgriCare : This is about the production, marketing and sales of fertilizers, specialty fertilizers and crop protection.
- Ingredients : The group offers products and services for the food industry, the pet food industry, organic agriculture, and the cosmetics and pharmaceuticals industries .
- Performance Chemicals : In this area Behn Meyer offers products for coatings, process engineering , water treatment, for petrochemical purposes as well as for leather and textile production.
- Polymers . This division deals with a wide variety of products for the plastics and rubber industries in Asia, Europe and the United States .
Sales and market position
In 2016, the group achieved a turnover of 696.9 million euros. In its list of the largest chemical distributors in Asia ("Asia Chemical Distribution Leaders") for 2016, the price information service ICIS placed Behn Meyer in 5th place out of 63.
Locations and customers
The group is represented by companies, branches, production facilities, warehouses or offices in the following countries:
- North America
- United States
The group looks after more than 10,000 customers.
The Hamburg families Kellinghusen, Lorenz-Meyer and Schönberg are the three equal owners, each with a third share. Your shares in Behn Meyer Deutschland Holding AG & Co KG are combined in family limited partnerships.
Leadership and employees
The executive board of Behn Meyer Holding AG consists of seven people: Prasonk Aramwittaya, Oliver Meyer, Khoo Su Chin, Chong Yiew On, Dirk Lorenz-Meyer, Rohaya Muhammad and Lotta Kellinghusen.
Control is exercised by the six-member supervisory board: Christian Traxel, Hoh Sooi Kim, Christa Lorenz-Meyer, Bernhard Becker, Jens Kellinghusen and Peter-Joachim Schönberg.
The group has been recruiting managers, including women, from among its employees in Asia for many years. This applies to the operating companies and also to the management bodies of Behn Meyer Holding AG .
More than 1100 people are employed in the group.
The company's headquarters are in Hamburg in the Kontorhaus am Ballindamm (house number 1), at the corner of Glockengießerwall . It is a five-storey corner building with a view of the Outer Alster and Inner Alster , in the immediate vicinity of the Lombard Bridge , Hamburg Art Gallery and Hamburg Central Station . The house was planned at the end of the 19th century and completed in 1907. During the Second World War, a bomb destroyed the roof and the mezzanine , both of which were rebuilt in 1959. From 2002 to 2003 the facade was extensively renovated in two stages. In this column , wrought iron structures , fluted , cornices and masonry from Cotta sandstone and mosaics uncovered and restored. In 2005 the Patriotic Society of 1765 praised the restoration: "For Hamburg, such a building is an invaluable detail in the chain of buildings worth seeing and preserving, especially around the Alster."
The former building of Behn, Meyer & Co. in Penang is now part of the Heritage Trail there and houses a museum . In 1891, Penang was the first location in Malaya and the first company to be established outside of Singapore. Today it is the last remaining historical building in the company's history in Asia.
Consuls and Honorary Consuls
- Theodor August Behn: for Bremen and Hamburg
- Arnold Otto Meyer: for Hamburg and Bremen, for Prussia and for the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
- Johannes Mooyer : for Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck
- Oscar Mooyer: for the North German Confederation and the German Empire
- Willy Kellinghusen: for the Malay Federation
- Gert Witthoefft: for Jamaica
- Reinhard Schönberg: for Jamaica
- Jens Kellinghusen: for Jamaica
- Peter-Joachim Schönberg: for Jamaica
- Dieter Lorenz-Meyer: for Singapore
- Dirk Lorenz-Meyer: for Singapore
Honors and honorary posts in Hamburg
Corporate social responsibility
Donations and socially responsible entrepreneurial activity have a long tradition in the company. Theodor August Behn donated money in Singapore in 1857 for the Sailors Home , Mr. Keasberry's Malay Schools , Tan Tock Seng's Hospital and Seamen's Hospital . On the 50th anniversary of the founding of Behn, Meyer & Co , the company donated a complete silver altar ware to the Anglican St. Andrews Cathedral in Singapore in 1890 , which is still in use there today.
After the Second World War , the owners of Arnold Otto Meyer founded a welfare association ( Arnold Otto Meyer Fürsorge eV ) in Hamburg . If necessary, his services should benefit long-term employees. By 1973, Arnold Otto Meyer's profits had raised more than 14 million DM. To alleviate the housing shortage in the post-war period , the company also built apartments for employees.
The Behn Meyer Foundation has existed in Malaysia since 1989 . She takes care of the further training of employees and the education of children of employees. In Indonesia the group supports selected primary schools, in the 1970s the group supported orphanages there through a foundation . In Vietnam schools and social institutions for children are supported. In Thailand, the company has participated in disaster relief measures with financial donations and work . On the occasion of the 175th anniversary, the company donated 100,000 Singapore dollars to the National University Cancer Institute in Singapore.
- Emil Helfferich: On the history of Behn, Meyer and Co., founded in Singapore on November 1, 1840, and Arnold Otto Meyer, founded in Hamburg on June 1, 1857 [Volume I. Foundation and early days. 1840–1862] (Volume 19 of the publications of the Wirtschaftsgeschichtliche Forschungsstelle eV), Hamburg. Christians, Hamburg 1957.
- Emil Helfferich: On the history of Behn, Meyer and Co., founded in Singapore on November 1st, 1840 and Arnold Otto Meyer, founded in Hamburg on June 1st, 1857. [II. Tape. 1863–1933] Christians, Hamburg 1967.
- Fritz Kleinsteuber: Merchants beyond the Seas. The history of the Behn Meyer trading company . Behn Meyer, Hamburg 2018 (2 volumes).
- Heinrich Sieveking : The beginnings of Behn-Meyer & Co. in Singapore 1840–1856 . In: Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte , Vol. 35 (1942), pp. 179–211.
- Heinrich Sieveking: Behn-Meyer & Co. in Singapore under the direction of Arnold Otto Meyers during the crisis of 1857 and in a new rise . In: Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte , Vol. 36 (1943–44), pp. 121–143.
- Shakila Yacob: Trans-generational renewal as managerial succession: The Behn Meyer story (1840-2000) . In: Business History , Volume 54 (2012), Number 7, pp. 1166-1185, doi: 10.1080 / 00076791.2012.692080 (pp. 1-20).
- Information according to the information on corporate leadership of the company. Accessed June 12, 2017.
- Information provided by the company about itself . Accessed June 12, 2017.
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- See the company information on Loactions , accessed on June 22, 2017.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 561.
- Yacob: Trans-generational renewal , p. 3 and p. 12 f. Kleinsteuerber: Merchants , p. 39, p. 157 and p. 316.
- On this recruiting policy see Yacob: Trans-generational renewal , p. 10. Kleinsteuerber: Merchants , p. 31, p. 155 f, p. 295, p. 330, p. 504 f, p. 574 and p. 581.
- Information on the office building according to Matthias Rebaschus, Annette Schulz: Ballindamm (almost) as beautiful as it used to be. In: Hamburger Abendblatt . May 17, 2004, accessed June 22, 2017 . Annette Schulz: Renovation of a turn-of-the-century building in Hamburg. Old treasures brought to light . In: bba Bau - Beratung - Architektur Heft 11, 2004.
- Bert Ulrich Beppler: Kontorhausviertel Balli dam . In: Patriotic Society of 1765: Prize for Monument Preservation 2005 , p. 14 f.
- Helfferich: Zur Geschichte , Volume II, p. 82. Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 85, p. 401 f.
- Historical postcard motifs with the building . In: Jin Seng Cheah: Penang. 500 early postcards , Editions Didier Millet, Kuala Lumpur, 2012. ISBN 978-967-10-6171-8 .
- Information from Timothy Tye on the building's history of use on the website penang-traveltips.com . Accessed December 20, 2017.
- Sieveking: The beginnings , p. 199. Helfferich: Zur Geschichte , Volume I, p. 123.
- Sieveking: Das Haus Behn-Meyer & Co. in Singapore , p. 127. Helfferich: Zur Geschichte , Volume I, p. 124. Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 67 f.
- Sieveking: The Beginnings , p. 205. Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 68.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 460.
- Helfferich: Zur Geschichte , Volume II, p. 45.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 287.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 278.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 316.
- Information on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore , accessed on June 22, 2017.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 78 and p. 81.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 343.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 351.
- Mourning for Dieter Lorenz-Meyer. In: Hamburger Abendblatt. September 13, 2008, accessed June 22, 2017 .
- Helfferich: Zur Geschichte , Volume I, p. 110.
- For this facility, see the information from Singapore Infopedia , accessed June 23, 2017.
- For this school, see the information from Singapore Infopedia , accessed June 23, 2017.
- For this hospital, see the information from the Singapore Infopedia , accessed June 23, 2017.
- For this hospital, now the Singapore General Hospital , see the information from the Singapore Infopedia , accessed June 23, 2017.
- For this church see the entry St Andrew's Cathedral of the Singapore Infopedia , accessed November 14, 2018.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 78.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 159.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 160.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 160 f.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 435.
- Kleinsteuber: Merchants , p. 482.
- See the information from the institute, accessed on October 5, 2017.