Continental AG

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Continental AG

legal form Corporation
ISIN DE0005439004
founding 1871
Seat Hanover , GermanyGermanyGermany 
Number of employees 241,458
sales 44.5 billion euros (2019)
Branch Automotive supplier
As of December 31, 2019

Countries with Continental AG plants worldwide

The Continental AG , shortly Conti , is a listed German automotive supplier based in Hannover . The company employs around 241,000 people at over 540 locations in 60 countries (as of 2019). Continental has developed from a pure tire manufacturer into one of the largest automotive suppliers and is the largest automotive supplier in the world after Robert Bosch GmbH . Since September 12, 2009 Elmar Degenhart has been CEO of Continental AG.

The Schaeffler Holding, wholly owned by Georg (80%) and Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler (20%), has a controlling stake of 46 percent in Continental, which is a sister company of Schaeffler AG (INA, FAG, LuK , Hydrel and others) is.

Since September 24, 2012, the company's share has again been included in the most important German share index, the DAX . Due to the above-average dividend yield , the share was also included in the DivDAX in September 2019 . In May 2013, the redesigned corporate logo opposite was introduced, still with a horse on the edge of the name.



Founding plant of the "Continental Caoutchouc & Gutta-Percha Compagnie AG" 1871

The nucleus of today's Continental AG was the bankruptcy assets of the small rubber processing company “Neue Hannoversche Gummi-Warenfabrik”, which was taken over in 1869 by the banker Moritz Magnus for 18,500 thalers. Magnus grouped nine financially strong investors and experienced manufacturers as founding shareholders of the "Continental- Caoutchouc - and Gutta-Percha Compagnie ", which was founded on October 8, 1871 as a stock corporation with a share capital of 300,000 thalers (equivalent to 900,000 marks ). This included the three shareholders of the company "Hannoversche Gummikamm Compagnie OHG" . They had production engineering knowledge of the material, which was new at the time, and held 27% of the shares. The founding shareholders agreed on a clear separation of the production areas: The new company should produce soft rubber goods, the existing Hannoversche Gummikamm continue to produce the traditional hard rubber goods . This agreement lasted around two decades.

Soft rubber and tire production 1871–1914

Early ( high-wheel ) tire advertising for Continental, around 1900
Full-page advertisement for
Continental Pneumatic brand automobile and bicycle tires ; with a manned racing car in front of a stylized Alpine backdrop; Illustrirte Zeitung No. 3835 of April 20, 1911

Between 1871 and 1874, new manufacturing facilities were built on the acquired company premises and purchased areas at Vahrenwalder Straße 34 - today part of ContiTech AG . The start of production was delayed several times. In the first year of operation in 1874, the company had 246 employees. In these early years technical and economic difficulties arose, which at the end of 1875 had to be absorbed with an additional capital of 147,000 marks. The banker Moritz Magnus then commissioned his young employee Siegmund Seligmann with a fundamental analysis of the company, as a result of which extensive organizational and production-related improvements were implemented. Production and the economic result stabilized. Siegmund Seligmann received power of attorney in 1876 and became commercial director and board member from 1879 (until his death in 1925).

Particular attention was paid to the technical and scientific fundamentals for which the chemist Adolf Prinzhorn, who was appointed in 1874, was responsible. He became technical director in 1876 (until 1908) and acquired manufacturing licenses for solid rubber tires in the USA. Under his direction, experiments with hollow and cushion tires (made of foamed rubber) were carried out in the mid-1880s.

Continental AG granted its workforce social benefits with a company health insurance fund founded in 1884 , with the life insurance policies for long-term employees from 1885 and a pension, widow's and orphan's fund established in 1903 . In a comparatively small housing program, a few blocks of flats and a bachelor's home were built around the turn of the century and at the beginning of the 1920s. In 1905 a works library was founded, which in the early 1920s owned over 10,000 volumes and was well used with 80,000 loans per year. In 1913 the state-approved factory school was added, which was primarily intended for workers.

From 1891 pneumatic tires for bicycles , the "Continental Pneumatics", were made, with which the company became the market leader in Germany. From the beginning of the 20th century, the production of car tires was added.

In the early decades, the production program comprised a variety of soft rubber products; In addition to rubber balls, hoof buffers (for horses), hoses for steam, water and gas lines, rubber-covered fabrics for balloons, airships and airplanes, waterproof clothing and medical-hygienic articles were manufactured. The workforce grew to around 600 in 1890 and 1,537 in 1899. Initially the dividend was around 9%, grew to 16% in 1882, and was 27% of the share capital from 1884 to 1892. In these early years the company was briefly called "Gummiball" - as a demarcation from the existing, larger "Gummikamm", the then Hannoversche Gummikamm Comp. AG . Later, “Continental”, or “Conti” for short, caught on. The founding name, which had become long and cumbersome, was also officially changed to “Continental Gummiwerke AG” in 1929.

At the world exhibition in 1904 the pneumatic tires won the "Grand Prix"

In the new field of tire production, some fundamental developments took place in these years, which became economic successes:

  • 1904 a pneumatic tire with a profile ,
  • 1908 the removable rim.

These successes were made possible through extensive research work in our own laboratory, through production engineering development work, through our own numerous patents and protected utility models and through the use of licenses. Technical developments in aviation opened up further sales opportunities: Tensioning materials for wings and outer skin as "aeroplane materials" and aircraft tires, which were sold in approx. 25 different versions of the "Continental Airplane Tire" were offered.

From 1903, Continental AG had a branch in Seelze with up to 400 workers in order to recover rubber from scrap rubber ( regranulate ). Despite their moderate economic success, these efforts played an important role in the First World War, when raw rubber deliveries from overseas were interrupted. The plants were operated until 1931.

The administration building on Vahrenwalder Strasse in Hanover, built between 1912 and 1914, has been the home of the Hanover Region Economic Development Agency since 2012
The original company name Continental-Caoutchouc- u. Gutta-Percha Co. on the facade of the former headquarters on Vahrenwalder Strasse in Hanover

The workforce grew to around 8,000 by the beginning of the First World War, and a further 5,000 people joined them in domestic and foreign holdings and commercial agencies. The export share had already increased to 55% by 1906 and finally reached its peak in 1913 at over 60% - with a value that would not be reached again until 75 years later. Between 1897 and 1912 several capital increases were carried out up to 12 million marks. Between 33 and 55% dividends were paid out annually on this capital contribution.

The representative administration building in Vahrenwalder Strasse was built between 1912 and 1914, designed by the architect Peter Behrens . Once completed, it was used as a warehouse by the military during the First World War . 1919–1920 it was expanded again. The construction is largely identical to that incurred in the same period the administration building of Mannesmann AG in Dusseldorf. The administration building in Hanover has a facade that is 100 m long. The corner pilasters are similar to those at the Altes Museum in Berlin . The building was badly damaged in the air raids on Hanover in World War II and was rebuilt after 1945. The "Technologie-Centrum Hannover" (TCH), a facility for start-up management in the Hanover region , has been located there since the 1980s .

First World War 1914–1918

When the First World War broke out, the overseas supplier countries interrupted Germany's supply of the two most important raw materials in the rubber industry - raw rubber and cotton . The remaining raw rubber stocks and later the old rubber stocks were administered by the war raw materials department from December 1914 . Production was switched to goods essential to the war effort, such as sealing materials for ship engines and sea mines, cable armouring for ignition cables and gas masks as well as gas-tight materials. The production of medical-hygienic articles was intensified; the manufacture of most rubber goods for private use was banned.

These production specifications and restrictions favored large, rationally operating companies, so that officially ordered closures and mergers with "absolutely vital" companies led to a significant decline in the number of companies. Of 185 factories in the German Reich before the start of the war , 32 remained in October 1917. The drafts for military service quickly resulted in staff shortages, which were made up for by the increased use of women.

Expansion between World War I and World War II

After the end of the war, the supply of raw materials was possible again, but there was a bottleneck in the energy supply, which was countered by buying a coal mine near Unna in 1920. The foreign branches were reopened. With the legally independent subsidiary "Internationale Continental-Caoutchouc-Compagnie" in Amsterdam, foreign business could be carried out in "hard" currencies during the inflationary period 1922-23 .

Aerial view of the main plant on Vahrenwalder Strasse in Hanover in the early 1920s

In 1920, a cooperation with the American tire manufacturer Goodrich , which had already been sought in 1914, but which did not materialize due to the war, came into force. Number four on the global tire market took over a quarter of the "Conti" shares. To this end, she helped with the procurement of raw materials overseas and provided insights into her research and production processes. Continental took over new compound recipes, assembly line production and graded quality monitoring, which gave it a clear technical lead and made it the leading German tire manufacturer.

Increasingly, technical rubber products such as conveyor belts and pressure rollers were now being produced. Combination elements using rubber such as the "Continental Schwingmetall", rubber-metal brackets for engines and transmissions, which reduced the transmission of noise and vibrations to the chassis, were new. With the takeover of Hannoversche Gummiwerke Excelsior AG in Limmer , Peters Union AG in Frankfurt am Main (formerly Mitteldeutsche Gummiwarenfabrik L. Peter AG ) with its plant in Korbach in 1928/29 and other competitors, Continental was able to further increase its market share, see above that it supplied two thirds of German rubber production.

Title page of the company newspaper Echo Continental , issue 10 from 1922

However, the variety of products showed clear weaknesses in the production processes, which had idle times of up to a third of the working time - combined with a considerable waste of energy and materials. While working with Goodrich, the company's management got to know the Bedaux system , a process for analyzing, evaluating and rationalizing work processes. On the basis of scientific management , the work processes have been recorded in time and movement studies - also in the writing rooms - from which remuneration from a guaranteed basic wage and performance bonus has been introduced (see also REFA ).

With the first balance sheet drawn up according to Bedaux in 1929, the company happily reported its increases in performance of 40 to 50%, which had led to increases in wages for employees of 18% and wage cost savings of 25 to 30% in the plant. As a result, the costs of 500,000 Reichsmarks for introducing the Bedaux system were offset by savings of more than ten times the amount. This system also met with open and covert rejection by the workforce, which resulted in layoffs - especially in the former Excelsior plant in Limmer.

At the end of the 1920s, the share capital was 40 million Reichsmarks , on which between 6 and 10% dividends were paid out annually . The workforce, including the plants that were taken over, was just under 17,000 in 1929 and fell to around 10,000 as a result of rationalization measures and the global economic crisis in the early 1930s.

Period of National Socialism 1933 to 1945

From 1933 onwards, the measures taken by the National Socialists (reduction or abolition of vehicle tax, the Reichsautobahn program and the KdF-Wagen project) had little effect on the balance sheet, as the poor currency situation and the self-sufficiency policy with its centralized management of rubber imports limited development opportunities. The regeneration of old rubber and the synthesis as well as the production of substitute materials came to the fore again. The qualitative disadvantages and the additional financial expenses had to be borne by the buyers, who subsidized these self-sufficiency efforts through the so-called " Heimstoffkasse ".

From 1936, the targets with the second four-year plan were geared towards the war-ability of the German economy and the readiness of the Wehrmacht within years. At the beginning of 1938 it was decided to build a new tire factory at the north port of Hanover (later called “Werk Stöcken”) with a capacity of 100 tons of compounds and 7,200 tires per day, a production as large as the entire previous capacity. The decisive factors were the endangered location of the main plant in Vahrenwald from the point of view of air protection and the increasing demand for the processing of synthetic rubber, which required new production processes and machines. The new "VW tires" were supposed to be produced in the new plant, but further construction was delayed with the outbreak of the war, and tire production only started in August 1942. It reached a maximum of (only) 650 tires per day.

After the start of the war (September 1, 1939), production was changed, tire production was geared to the special needs of the Wehrmacht, and in the rest of the production, products essential to the war effort such as self-sealing fuel tanks and battery boxes for armored and intelligence troops came to the fore. The manufacture of aircraft tires at the Stöcken plant was of particular importance.

From November 1940, inmates of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp were abused for wear tests on Igelite plastic soles that were produced by Continental. On the so-called “shoe test track” of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the shoe runners had to test the soles and heels of the Continental subsidiary “Schwelmer Gummiwaren GmbH” for wear by walking. The endurance runs were de facto death marches , as the runners were shot when they collapsed due to fatigue . Igelit soles lasted up to 2200 kilometers.

Towards the end of the war, the production of “people's gas masks” was added at the Limmer plant. The workforce situation quickly became problematic when they were called up for military service : in 1942, when Conti was named a model company by the Nazi state under Fritz Koenecke , who was then chairman of the board , around 3,000 Continental employees were called up; in 1944 it was over 4,000, which is around a third of the pre-war workforce corresponds.

As a result, forced laborers were exploited: at the end of 1943 their number was around 5,500 (4,546 “civilian workers from occupied areas” and 903 prisoners of war). The forced laborers were housed in specially built camps or unused houses on or near the factories, the plant security were monitored Continental's works. As warehouse manager were camp leaders used that the shop steward of the German Labor Front were (DAF), the unit Confederation of Labor and employers assumed.

In the last years of the war, the production of aircraft tires in the Stöcken plant and the manufacture of “people's gas masks” in the Limmer plant were given high priority.

With the support of the SS, concentration camp prisoners were exploited in the two plants and in a plant for the additive in Gliwice , which was created with Conti's participation. For this purpose, an area in the Stöcken plant that had previously been used as a forced labor camp was converted by the construction department of Continental in accordance with the specifications and, under the direction of the SS, used as a subcamp in Stöcken in 1944. The 1,000 or so concentration camp inmates worked 12-hour shifts in production. After a few weeks, 55 concentration camp prisoners were dead, 80 to 85 were sent back to the main camp Neuengamme because they were unable to work , which amounted to a death sentence. In addition to the Neuengamme concentration camp, the prisoners also came from the Ravensbrück concentration camp and the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Łódź ghetto . The prisoners were moved to the Hanover-Ahlem satellite camp at the end of 1944 in order to convert former asphalt tunnels into underground production rooms. There, too, some died as a result of the working conditions.

A subcamp ( subcamp Hannover-Limmer ) was also built at the Limmer plant and operated as a women's camp with up to 1,100 prisoners from 1944 until the end of the war, who were mainly used in 12-hour shifts in the production of gas masks. Company publications after the war did not mention this use of forced laborers and concentration camp prisoners. In the new edition of the “Company History” from 1949, only the war destruction and reconstruction efforts are reported. In the comprehensive work "Continental 1871–1971 - A Century of Progress and Performance" on the occasion of the company's 100th anniversary, their use is described as follows:

“Replacement was created for the lack of workers through additional female employment and through the use of foreign national civilian workers of both sexes and prisoners of war. At the end of 1943, 4,546 foreign civilian workers and 903 prisoners of war were employed. According to nationalities and nationalities it was a motley society from over 20 different countries. The majority were French, Poles and Russians ..... The plant management is particularly satisfied that this forced employment of foreigners has not resulted in any proceedings for Continental. "

- Hans Theodor Schmidt

The main plant on Vahrenwalder Strasse was badly damaged in the bombing raid in February 1945 . Only minor damage had to be repaired in the works in Stöcken and Limmer. At the end of the war, the factories were looted.

Post-war to 1960s

In 1946, 16 former concentration camp prisoners from Ahlem wrote a letter to the British military government in Germany, protesting "on behalf of 850 dead comrades who were murdered through beatings, hunger and other tortures while doing the Conti work" .. . "energetically against the reinstatement of the Nazi manager of Continental Gummiwerke AG, Dr. Könecke , and the former Nazi Board ". KÖNECKE was released last year by the appointed by the Allies new CEO Pinkenburg, who had to settle for fraud later a prison sentence.

Conti high-rise , former head office at Königsworther Platz in Hanover, built in 1952/1953 according to plans by Ernst Zinsser and Werner Dierschke , since 1995 part of the University of Hanover ("Conti-Campus")

At the Limmer plant, production was able to restart shortly after the end of the war - initially severely limited. The occupying powers ordered the production of urgently needed products such as suction cups and hygienic and medical articles. The scarcity of raw materials meant that the processing of scrap rubber was further intensified. Rubber mixing was concentrated in the Limmer branch for all three Hanover plants. The central administration and accounting departments were relocated to the Limmer branch, which resulted in a great shortage of space, so that the production rooms were also converted into offices.

"Promptus" bicycle repair kit from Continental AG from the 1950s

After the reconstruction work, the priority was to catch up on the technical backlog from the war period and to restore the company's ability to innovate. Continental resumed its relationship with American tire companies - as it did after the First World War - and for the following years oriented itself towards the American tire industry, which was at its peak. The latest know-how in rubber chemistry, tire construction and tire production could be obtained through license agreements and through a direct exchange of experience. With General Tire in 1949 a cooperation agreement with no links under company law was concluded, which gave access to licenses and patents.

In the mid-1950s, technological equality with American companies was achieved; General Tire cooperation ended in 1954. In that year, extensive new office buildings with the distinctive 15-story Conti high-rise and two side wings on Königsworther Platz in Hanover, which had been built in 1952/1953 according to plans by Ernst Zinsser and Werner Dierschke , were available. In 1955, Continental was the first German tire company to bring tubeless tires to the market ready for series production. In 1960, the company achieved parity with the American tire industry with the new radial tire technology (textile belt with rayon cord casing). By the end of the 1950s, Continental was able to regain its dominant market position (40%) with the production of 12 million tires worth almost a billion DM (in the German market before Dunlop with 18% and Phoenix 12%, Michelin 1%).

Crisis in the 1970s

Advertising sign for Contire tires from the time of the economic miracle

In the "economic boom" , despite the growth in sales, a radical structural change was brewing in the rubber industry, which fundamentally changed the world of tires. The German car market had become the second most important in the world. Foreign manufacturers pushed their way onto the market with cheap offers and set up their own production facilities or created them through company takeovers - as in 1962 Goodyear took over Fulda Reifen .

In tire construction, the radial tire (with its radial structure) took the place of the diagonal structure , with textile and steel belts initially competing with one another. Continental favored the textile belt tire. Michelin brought the steel belt tire onto the market in the early 1970s, which doubled the mileage of up to 60,000 km with a high load capacity. Michelin's market share tripled in Germany in just three years - from 10% (1970) to 32% (1972).

This tire development went back to the 1930s, when Michelin took over the car manufacturer Citroën after its bankruptcy. The front-wheel drive, which was unusual at the time, required more powerful tires, which is why Michelin used steel mesh instead of the usual cord fabric. The basic problem of the permanent connection between wire and rubber was solved after lengthy developments. The production processes have been comprehensively adapted and safeguarded with tiered quality monitoring.

Due to the advantages of the new steel belted tires, the market share of the German tire manufacturers dropped from around 75% to below 30% within a short period of time. In 1969, Continental was still the market leader with 45% of passenger car tires and around 40% of truck tires, but by 1972 it lost half of this market share - initially on the replacement market, then also in the original equipment, especially those with front-wheel drive and with higher performance cars.

As a result, a negative operating result with a loss of 68 million DM had to be recorded for the first time after the war in 1972. In a letter to the supervisory board in September 1973, the new board member Carl H. Hahn specified his analysis: The factories of Continental are for the most part incorrectly structured both in terms of their product range and production processes, and the working conditions in many areas are no longer up to date. Therefore, labor productivity is low and quality is low. In a first step, quality assurance was anchored directly to the CEO as a central organizational function. "We have to master the technology so that all tires are so round that we can throw away the non-round tires," was the new specification from Carl Hahn, who abolished the previous practice of allowing five times the number of tires for original equipment orders produce, then pick the best quality ones and get the rest off at bargain prices in the replacement business. The Continental tires were provided with a yellow band and marked as a quality and branded product in the replacement shop; In the long term, Continental also came back to the OEM business.

Another attempt was made to make up for the technical backlog through extensive license and know-how acquisitions, accompanied by an expansion and restructuring of the company's own research and development work. This also applied to the Schwingmetall and molded articles. In the V-belt sector, for example, it was the know-how of the American world market leader Dayco that could be tapped and that led to the recovery of shares in the V-belt business.

At the time, the focus was on the question of whether the tire business should generally be given up and instead the production of technical rubber products should be accelerated, since greater potential for expansion was assumed there. However, the other tire manufacturers' shutdowns gave rise to fears that they too would aim to expand their technical products. Ultimately, Continental decided to keep tire production and make it more efficient by modernizing production and changing and improving working conditions. The large number of holding companies was reduced considerably and the holdings were realigned. The manufacture of molded parts for the automotive industry was also retained, primarily due to the close ties to tire sales, so that the main plants in Hanover-Vahrenwald and Limmer were initially secured. Ultimately, it would take the entire 1970s to overcome the suddenly apparent crisis.

1980s and 1990s

Rear of the Continental plant in Hanover-Vahrenwald , view from the nearby railway line
Panorama of the Continental plant in Hanover-Stöcken , view from the opposite bank of the canal
Former factory premises in Hanover-Limmer, the so-called “water town” is currently being built here.
Close up
Contiwerk, Uniroyal building in Aachen

In October 1982, the company signed a cooperation agreement with the US tire company General Tire , which in 1981 had a world market share of 2.9 percent and produced 500,000 tires in the US annually. In 1987 GenCorp sold 100 percent of the General Tire subsidiary to Continental AG.

From 1990 to 1993 the Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli tried to take over Continental AG. This would have been one of the first cases in which a large German company would have been taken over by a foreign competitor. Accordingly, there was a lot of media coverage. Continental AG tried to prevent the hostile takeover . This succeeded because a defensive front under the leadership of Deutsche Bank acquired a blocking minority and Pirelli ran out of liquidity after a long struggle.

Restructuring and plant closures


2005 saw unexpectedly low growth in the car tire production division. Thereupon, the chairman of the board, Manfred Wennemer, announced on November 22, 2005 that the production of car tires at the main plant in Hanover-Stöcken would be discontinued at the end of 2006 despite profitability. As a result, 320 employees lost their jobs. This led to protests from the workforce. On December 6, 2005, for the first time in the history of Continental AG, a general assembly of all employees in Germany took place at 26 locations. Here the employee representatives called for the announced plant closure to be withdrawn. On January 23, 2006, there was another day of action for employees with a demonstration in front of the company's headquarters in Hanover. A day later, at a meeting between management, works council and trade union, a compromise was reached (it was not closed until the end of 2007), which resulted in the dismissal of around 400 employees.

During his tenure as CEO of the Continental Corporation, Wennemer consistently oriented production towards cost aspects and, in addition to reducing administrative costs, also pushed production to low-wage locations. Fierce criticism was leveled at the premature termination of an agreement concluded with the trade union and works council on the preservation of jobs against unpaid overtime at the end of 2005 at the main plant in Hanover .

In March 2009 it was announced that the truck tire production still remaining in Hanover-Stöcken would be discontinued. The last remaining tire production at the headquarters in Hanover was thus discontinued. Almost 800 employees were affected.

In November 2013, Conti opened its new ContiLifeCycle plant in Hanover-Stöcken . The ContiLifeCycle plant is a combination of a hot and cold retreading plant for truck and bus tires with a rubber recycling plant and will have an annual capacity of 180,000 tires at full capacity.

In April 2019, Continental AG announced the organizational realignment and separation of its Powertrain division. The drive division will in future be managed by Andreas Wolf under the name Vitesco Technologies and will operate largely independently.

Other countries

There have already been plant closings in Dublin (Ireland), Newbridge (Scotland), Herstal (Belgium), Gislaved (Sweden) and Traiskirchen (Austria) in recent years . The mixing room in Traiskirchen was initially continued; on December 31, 2009 this was also closed. A conflict over the closure of a plant in Guadalajara , Mexico , which had been simmering since 1998 , was settled in early 2005. At the time, Continental took over the Mexican tire company Euzkadi and surprisingly closed the company in 2001 after long-lasting controversies with the Euzkadi management and the trade union representatives over extended working hours and wage cuts. Around 1,100 workers were laid off. They picketed and prevented a factory dismantling. Although the closure was temporarily declared illegal by a Mexican federal labor court and the strike legal, the conflict was not resolved until the beginning of 2005. With the help of the Mexican government, the workers took over 50 percent of the plant.

There were also plant closings in the USA : tire production in Mayfield , Kentucky, ended on December 31, 2004. The mixing room and some warehouse activities initially continued in Mayfield, but later discontinued. The Charlotte, North Carolina site was closed on September 15, 2006. Since then, only the factory in Mount Vernon , Illinois, remains as the US manufacturing location for tires for cars and trucks.

Takeover attempt by the Schaeffler Group

On July 14, 2008, the family-owned Schaeffler Group announced that it would be able to dispose of 36% of the shares through swap transactions, whereby the threshold of 30% of the voting rights was exceeded, above which a takeover offer must be made to the other shareholders . On the following day, Schaeffler submitted its mandatory offer of 69.37 euros per share with the aim of increasing its own stake to almost 50 percent. After the first violent defensive reactions on the part of the three times larger Continental Corporation, Continental concluded a far-reaching investor agreement with the Schaeffler Group on August 21, 2008. The Schaeffler Group's involvement in Continental should be limited to a minority stake of a maximum of 49.99 percent over the next four years. As a representative of all Continental stakeholders , Federal Chancellor a. D. Gerhard Schröder named. The takeover price , which was increased to EUR 75.00 per share, was viewed as a bargain . In Manfred Wennemer , which was released at his own request from his post as chairman, followed on 31 August 2008. Karl-Thomas Neumann . Wennemer had held the office since September 11, 2001. On August 12, 2009, Elmar Degenhart replaced Neumann and became Chairman of the Board of Management.

After the bankruptcy of Lehman Bank on September 15, 2008 in the wake of the international financial crisis , prices fell on the stock exchanges. The Schaeffler Group was now offered 90% of the Continental AG shares at the takeover price of 75 euros, while the stock market price for Continental had fallen to below 20 euros. Due to the obligations from the takeover offer, Schaeffler had to buy the Continental shares tendered at a high price, but parked around 40% with banks such as MM Warburg and Metzler . The result was that the Schaeffler Group borrowed more than planned and at the beginning of 2009 Continental AG was only worth a quarter as much as planned. This reduced the credit security for the banking consortium led by the Royal Bank of Scotland , which had lent the money for the takeover. The consortium included Commerzbank , Dresdner , HypoVereinsbank , Landesbank Baden-Württemberg and the Swiss UBS . The German bank , bank of Schaeffler had not participated because of the feared high debt.

A dispute between Continental and Schaeffler escalated as to how the unimagined debt burden could be reduced and the merger of the two groups saved. Two strategies were controversially discussed:

  • Continental AG could sell its tire business.
  • Continental AG could take over Schaeffler's automotive business. Instead of paying a purchase price, Continental would take over the Schaeffler division's debts.

These two strategies led to a dispute between the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Continental AG Hubertus von Grünberg and the Managing Director of the Schaeffler Group, Jürgen Geißinger . After Schaeffler acquired the de facto majority stake in Continental AG in early 2009, Grünberg resigned from his post on January 24, 2009. Schaeffler consultant Rolf Koerfer , a lawyer and specialist in mergers, became the new Chairman of the Supervisory Board. Linde CEO Wolfgang Reitzle has led the Supervisory Board since September 2009 . The Schaeffler Group is represented by four members, including owner Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler . The takeover, which was completed in January 2009, created the world's third largest automotive supplier.

At the end of January 2009, Continental and Schaeffler tried to obtain state aid to keep their group of companies going. The state governments of Lower Saxony and Bavaria discussed aid worth around 500 million euros each. In December 2009, Continental was in debt with 9.5 billion euros and Schaeffler with 12 billion euros.

Return to the DAX

In 1988, when the German leading index DAX was founded , the Continental share was one of the narrow group of 30 selected stocks. Since the share was no longer one of the leaders in the selection criteria of market capitalization and stock exchange turnover in 1996 , it dropped out of the DAX and was then included in the MDAX . Between 2003 and 2008 it belonged again to the DAX, but in the course of the takeover of the shares by Schaeffler and the allied banks, the free market capitalization fell below the DAX admission threshold , which is why the share was downgraded to the MDAX in December 2008. Continental AG has been listed in the DAX again since September 24, 2012. This made Continental the only company that made it back into the DAX twice.

Development of the group logo and redesign in 2013

As early as 1876, the then "Continental Caoutchouc and Gutta-Percha Compagnie", the predecessor of what is now Continental AG, registered a jumping horse as a trademark for hoof buffers (orthopedic piece of rubber between hoof and horseshoe that reduces snow and ice accumulation, especially in winter as well as damage from vibrations and penetration of sand and stones).

Continental logo until early 2013

In 1882 the "Conti horse" was registered as a trademark with the Imperial Patent Office in Hanover and has since become a global trademark, slightly modified over the decades. The previous logo on the left was revised and redesigned in 2012/2013 in a longer brand architecture and positioning process. The lettering remained largely the same - with detailed adjustments in the letter design.

Continental logo from May 2013

" We are keeping the characteristic ligature of the letters C and O", is the annual report presented in May 2013. The color scheme has been adjusted - now black font on an orange background. The horse, on the other hand, has been fundamentally revised, "freed" from the previous surrounding circle with a banner and depicted as "self-confident, standing", while the previous horse, according to CEO Elmar Degenhart, assumed "a rather falling and unnatural posture", as did horse experts would have confirmed.

Plans in the Baltic States 2018

In 2018, Continental is building a new plant for the production of electronic components in the second largest Lithuanian city ​​of Kaunas . The investments are planned at around 95 million euros on an initial production area of ​​16,000 square meters with 1,000 workplaces.

Group structure

Company structure

Continental administration building in Korbach
Chimney from Continental Korbach

Continental AG was founded in 1871. In 2019 it achieved sales of 44.478 billion euros with an EBITDA of 4.977 billion euros with 241,458 employees worldwide . The company is divided into five business areas with a total of 24 business units. The business areas are each assigned to the superordinate company divisions Rubber Technologies (rubber products) or Automotive Technologies :

  • Rubber Technologies
    • ContiTech (technical elastomers )
    • Tires (tires for passenger cars, commercial vehicles, industry, two-wheelers)
  • Automotive Technologies
    • Autonomous Mobility and Safety (AMS)
    • Vehicle Networking and Information (VNI)
    • Vitesco Technologies

The ContiTech AG was the 2004 announced acquisition of Phoenix AG strengthened. With the merger of the two companies in January 2007, the remaining shareholders of Phoenix AG became shareholders of ContiTech AG . ContiTech shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Hamburg and Hanover.

The ContiTemic deals with electronic brake systems, occupant safety, comfort electronics and drive technology. With the supplier ZF Sachs (drives) and global partners for energy storage systems, ContiTemic supplies complete hybrid drives to automobile manufacturers such as u. a. General Motors and Daimler .

In July 2006, Continental acquired Motorola's automotive electronics business (chassis control and drive, sensor and comfort electronics, and telematics business ) in order to add a new “Telematics” division to its own “Continental Automotive Systems” division.

With the integration of Motorola into the Continental Corporation, the names "Temic", "Teves" and "Motorola" are no longer used, but only "Continental Automotive Systems" is used for all electronics subsidiaries.

In April 2007 it was announced that Continental would buy 51 percent of the Matador Rubber Group . The Hanover-based automotive supplier is thus involved in the Slovakian tire and machine manufacturer beyond an already existing joint venture in the truck tire sector. Continental AG thus took another strategic step to create manufacturing capacities in low-wage countries.

On July 25, 2007 it was announced that Continental would take over the automotive supplier Siemens VDO Automotive . The purchase price was 11.4 billion euros. On November 29, 2007 the EU competition commissioner approved the purchase without any conditions and became legally binding.

In February 2014, Continental acquired Veyance Technologies Inc. from the Carlyle Group for $ 1.9 billion. The acquisition was completed on January 30, 2015.

In July 2018, it became known that Continental was planning a comprehensive corporate restructuring aimed at a holding structure under the umbrella brand Continental Group.

Shareholder structure

Continental is one of the leading listed companies in German post-war history and has been included in the German Stock Index ( DAX ).

The company shares at the end of 2017 were as follows:

Schaeffler family 46.0%
Free float 54.0%

The major shareholder is the Schaeffler family, who hold 10.01% of the ordinary bearer shares through Schaeffler Verwaltungs GmbH and 35.99% through Schaeffler Verwaltung Zwei GmbH.


  • Elmar Degenhart (since August 12, 2009)
  • Christian Kötz (since March 1, 2019)
  • Hans-Jürgen Duensing (since May 1, 2015)
  • Frank Jourdan (since September 25, 2013)
  • Helmut Matschi (since August 12, 2009)
  • Ariane Reinhart (since October 1, 2014)
  • Wolfgang Schäfer (since January 1, 2010)
  • Nikolai Setzer (since August 12, 2009)

Supervisory board


  • Wolfgang Reitzle (Chairman since September 28, 2009)
  • Christiane Benner * (since March 1, 2018, deputy chairwoman)
  • Gunter Dunkel (since April 23, 2009)
  • Peter Gutzmer (since December 4, 2013)
  • Peter Hausmann * (since July 1, 2013)
  • Michael Iglhaut * (since 2006)
  • Klaus Mangold (since April 23, 2009)
  • Sabine Neuss (since 2014)
  • Rolf Nonnenmacher (since 2014)
  • Dirk Nordmann * (since 2004)
  • Klaus Rosenfeld (since April 23, 2009)
  • Georg FW Schaeffler (since February 5, 2009)
  • Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler-Thumann (since February 5, 2009)
  • Jörg Schönfelder * (since 2004)
  • Stefan Scholz (since 2015)
  • Gudrun Valten * (since April 28, 2017)
  • Kirsten Vörkel * (since 2014)
  • Elke Volkmann * (since 2014)
  • Erwin Wörle * (since 2004)
  • Siegfried Wolf (since December 6, 2010)
* Employee representatives

Former personalities



Continental headquarters in Hanover-Vahrenwald (view on Philipsbornstrasse)
Aerial view of the Continental factory buildings in Hanover
Contidrom test site near Jeversen
Continental tubular bicycle tire "Sprinter 250" from the 1990s
Tires ContiPremiumContact 5 on a light metal rim of Volkswagen in the dimension 215/55 R 17 (2017)

Continental AG is the fourth largest tire manufacturer in the world after Bridgestone , Michelin and Goodyear . The Passenger and Light Truck Tires division (Europe) comprises the brands Continental, Uniroyal, Semperit, Sportiva, Barum, General Tire , Euzkadi, Viking, Gislaved, Mabor and Matador. A whole range of house brands is also produced, for example for tire wholesalers. With effect from November 1, 2004, it sold the agricultural tire business to the Czech company ČGS .

In 1985, Continental took over the tire division of Semperit AG in Traiskirchen in Lower Austria and thus its subsidiaries in Slovenia Sava and in the Czech Republic Barum . In 2002 tire production was completely relocated from Traiskirchen to the Czech Republic. The remaining production for rubber compounds was also closed at the end of 2009.

Vehicle systems

The Continental Automotive Systems (CAS) division was established in 1995 . These are electronically controlled chassis and vehicle safety systems (e.g. for brakes, tire pressure, driver assistance systems , ESP , airbag control units , acceleration sensors ). With this area, the company is a global supplier to the automotive industry in the areas of driving safety, drive systems and comfort. With the acquisition of the brake manufacturer Alfred Teves GmbH based in Frankfurt am Main in 1998 , which was sold by the American ITT Automotive at the time , and the automotive electronics manufacturer Temic in Nuremberg ( taken over by DaimlerChrysler in 2001 ), this division outperformed tire production and became its mainstay the company. In 2004, the share of total group sales was around 40 percent. Near Brimley ( Michigan ), the company has a development center with test site ( 46 ° 22 '15 "  N , 84 ° 34' 17"  W ). Another test track , the Contidrom , for testing tires is located 35 km northeast of Hanover in Wietze- Jeversen in the Südheide .

Brands of the CAS (Continental Automotive Systems) division:

  • ATE (Abbreviation for Alfred Teves) (ABS / ESP electronics, independent aftermarket, vehicle spare parts)
  • Barum (independent aftermarket, vehicle spare parts)
  • Temic (chassis electronics, engine management, transmission control, comfort electronics, electric motors, occupant protection)
  • Teves (braking, stability and chassis control systems)
  • VDO (after the takeover of Siemens VDO Automotive AG )

Bosch and Continental have large shares in the world market for ESP systems.

Continental Engineering Services logo

Besides the production of vehicle systems Continental offers through its subsidiary, Continental Engineering Services GmbH (CES) engineering services to the automotive industry. CES specializes in the adaptation and individualization of large series technology from the Continental Corporation for small series production and niche applications. In addition, the company adapts automotive technology for use outside the automotive industry. CES was founded in 2006 and today employs around 1,000 people at 16 locations worldwide. According to a study by Automobilwoche, CES is one of the 20 strongest development service providers in the world, with sales of 100 million euros in 2012.

Investigations into VW defeat device

At the beginning of July 2020, investigators searched several locations in connection with shutdown systems used by VW in exhaust gas cleaning . Engineers from the supplier are now also being targeted by law enforcement officers. Der Spiegel quotes public prosecutor Oliver Eisenhauer, investigating Continental employees for aiding and abetting fraud and for submitting false documents. They are checking whether employees may have accepted the order for the engine control of the 1.6-liter version of the later scandalous EA 189 diesel engine in the knowledge that VW wanted to pursue fraudulent intentions with it.

Information and advertising

Travel literature, including the “Conti Atlas” in the early 1920s

In the interwar period, the company expanded its advertising campaigns extensively. For the company newspaper Echo-Continental , which appeared from 1913, creative and renowned designers and editors could be won in the early 1920s, including a. the writer Erich Maria Remarque . Reports from cycling and racing as well as travel reports provided information and entertainment with numerous pictures. A large part of the training was given to imparting knowledge about tires, their care and damage precautions. In addition, there were various comics and picture stories in the “Echo-Continental”. The draftsman Otto Schendel introduced the figure of "Mr. Conti", a cigar smoking tire with face, arms and legs.

The magazine was given to registered customers free of charge, the others sold for 20 pfennigs. She reached print runs of 100,000 pieces. The magazine was discontinued in 1939, but two more issues followed in 1941.

For the increasing number of drivers , the “Continental Handbook for Motorists and Motorcyclists” was published with city maps, inn directories and sights together with addresses of tire dealers and repair shops. This reference work, later known as the “Conti-Atlas”, was published in 1909 and in 1971 reached its 38th edition.


  • Hans Theodor Schmidt: Continental. A century of progress and achievement 1871–1971. Published by Continental-Gummi-Werke-Aktiengesellschaft, Hanover 1971.
  • Silke Lesemann, Reiner Spittka: stopwatches and bonuses. Continental plants: employees and rationalization. In: Adelheid von Saldern et al. : Everyday life between Hindenburg and Haarmann. Another city guide through Hanover in the 20s. Ed. Geschichtswerkstatt Hannover, Hamburg: VSA-Verlag, 1987, ISBN 3-87975-397-0 , pp. 39-46.
  • Paul Erker: Growing in competition. A contemporary history of Continental Aktiengesellschaft (1971–1996). On the occasion of the company's 125th anniversary. ECON, Düsseldorf 1996, ISBN 3-430-12548-0 .
  • Paul Erker: From national to global competition. The German and American tire industries in the 19th and 20th centuries. Schöningh, Paderborn 2005, ISBN 3-506-71788-X . (In it: pp. 92–183: National and transnational markets: Continental and the European competition).
  • Reinald Schröder: Adolf Prinzhorn (1834–1913). Schröderscher Buchverlag, 2004, ISBN 3-89728-010-8 .
  • Gregor Maaß, Lars Stubbe: Contra Continental. The resistance of the Mexican Euzkadi workers against the German tire company. Neuer ISP-Verlag, Karlsruhe 2009, ISBN 978-3-89900-129-7 .

Web links

Commons : Continental AG  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Board of Management - Continental AG. Retrieved October 19, 2019 .
  2. a b Preliminary consolidated financial statements 2019 , accessed on March 13, 2020
  3. ^ Continental AG. Retrieved March 21, 2017 .
  4. Florian Langenscheidt , Bernd Venohr (Hrsg.): Lexicon of German world market leaders. The premier class of German companies in words and pictures. German Standards Editions, Cologne 2010, ISBN 978-3-86936-221-2 .
  5. a b c d Georg Meck: The climber . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung . No. 38 . Frankfurt am Main September 23, 2012, p. 40 .
  6. ^ Gregor Haake, Guido Warlimont: Degenhart replaces Neumann at the Conti head. (No longer available online.) In: Financial Times Deutschland. August 12, 2009, archived from the original on September 16, 2009 ; accessed on September 25, 2012 : "The supervisory body appointed Schaeffler manager Elmar Degenhart as the new Conti boss with immediate effect and unanimously approved the dismissal of the previous incumbent Karl-Thomas Neumann."
  7. Conti becomes a family company on February 13, 2015 on, accessed on October 12, 2015.
  8. Historical Index Compositions of the Equity- and Strategy Indices of Deutsche Börse, Version 9.7. (PDF) In: September 2019, accessed on November 23, 2019 .
  9. a b Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung (HAZ): Backing the wrong horse - Continental changes its logo and consults animal connoisseurs for this , issue of June 10, 2013, p. 1
  10. ^ A b c d Hans Theodor Schmidt: Continental - A Century of Progress and Achievement, 1871 to 1971. Company publication for the 100th anniversary of the company, self-published, Hanover 1971.
  11. a b c d e f g h Paul Erker: From national to global competition - The German and American tire industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Schöningh-Verlag Paderborn, 2005, ISBN 3-506-71788-X .
  12. Continental Gummiwerke AG Hanover: History of rubber and Continental. Company publication, self-published, Hanover 1930.
  13. ^ A b c d e Paul Erker: Growing in competition. A contemporary history of Continental Aktiengesellschaft (1971–1996). On the occasion of the company's 125th anniversary. ECON, Düsseldorf 1996, ISBN 3-430-12548-0 .
  14. a b c d e f g Jürgen Dahlkamp, ​​DER SPIEGEL: Auto supplier Continental in the Nazi era: "The real backbone of the armaments and war economy" - DER SPIEGEL - history. Retrieved August 27, 2020 .
  15. Der Spiegel: Into the shredder - In the middle of Hanover there were seven concentration camps in which thousands of prisoners were tortured to death. dated January 9, 1984
  16. a b Rainer Fröbe u. a .: Concentration camp in Hanover - concentration camp work and armaments industry in the late phase of World War II. (Publications of the Historical Commission for Lower Saxony and Bremen 35: Sources and studies on the general history of Lower Saxony in the modern age; Vol. 8) 2 parts, Verlag August Lax, Hildesheim 1985, ISBN 3-7848-2422-6 .
  17. ^ Continental AG Hannover: Rubber and Continental - History of a Raw Material and a Plant. Company publication, self-published, Hanover 1949.
  18. Hans Theodor Schmidt: Continental - A Century of Progress and Achievement, 1871 to 1971 . In: Company publication for the 100th company anniversary . Self-published, Hanover 1971, p. 102-103 .
  19. ^ Roland Czada, Reinhard Zintl: Politics and Market. PVS Political Quarterly Bulletin. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2003, ISBN 3-531-14140-6 , p. 309.
  20. Powertrain is starting to be independent. Retrieved October 19, 2019 .
  21. ^ A b Hans-Jürgen Klesse: Large debts. Integration of Continental and Schaeffler stalled. Wirtschaftswoche, August 6, 2010, accessed on November 3, 2013 .
  22. ^ A b Axel Hildebrand: Conti and Schaeffler. A drama with tricks and tears. Stern , August 12, 2009, accessed November 3, 2013 .
  23. a b Christine Skowronowski: Schaeffler at Conti arrived. FR online, Frankfurter Rundschau, August 22, 2008, accessed on November 3, 2013 .
  24. The seven lives of the ex-chancellor. Gerhard Schröder takes care of Conti. Handelsblatt, August 21, 2008, accessed on November 3, 2013 .
  25. a b c Reports on state aid pull Conti shares deep into the red . Spiegel Online , accessed January 26, 2009.
  26. Conti takes a breather from banks . Manager Magazin , December 20, 2009.
  27. Continental Corporation: Questions and Answers on the Share. Accessed November 3, 2013.
  28. Continental shares listed in the DAX again as of today. Continental Press Portal, November 24, 2012. Accessed November 3, 2013.
  29. Achim Schaffrinna: Continental receives new logo Internet presentation , accessed on June 10, 2013
  30. Frank Volk: Continental confirms the construction of a new plant in Lithuania. In: October 30, 2017. Retrieved November 23, 2019 .
  31. "Continental" STATYS gamykla Kaune: ruošia 1 tūkst. darbo vietų. In: October 30, 2017, accessed November 23, 2019 (Lithuanian).
  32. ROUNDUP: Ad-hoc announcement: Continental AG acquires Veyance Technologies Inc. from the Carlyle Group , February 10, 2014.
  33. Holding and partial IPO - Continental announces corporate restructuring . Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  34. Shareholder Structure . Conti AG. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  35. Continental Corporation -Shareholder Breakdown, Notification of Voting Rights. Retrieved April 5, 2017 .
  36. Handelsblatt, December 28, 2013: Conti extends Degenhart for five years
  37. ^ Board of Management - Continental AG. Retrieved October 4, 2019 .
  38. Change in the Conti board of directors: HR manager fails because of the male bastion. In: Spiegel Online. April 25, 2014, accessed on April 25, 2014 : “Barely two years after taking office, Strathmann is now facing the end of Conti. Her successor is the previous head of HR at the VW subsidiary Bentley, Ariane Reinhart. "
  39. all members of the supervisory board , accessed on May 21, 2017
  40. , September 17, 2012.
  41. Automobilwoche, 12/2012 edition, The 25 development service providers with the highest turnover worldwide in 2011 , downloadable for a fee at:
  42. Investigators search Continental because of VW shutdown device. July 1, 2020 (accessed July 2, 2020)
  43. Eckart Sackmann : Otto Schendel . In: Eckart Sackmann (Ed.): Deutsche Comicforschung 2012 . comicplus +, Hildesheim 2011, ISBN 978-3-89474-218-8 , p. 43.
  44. ↑ Something New in the West - Early Advertising , accessed February 14, 2012.
  45. Eckart Sackmann: Otto Schendel . In: Eckart Sackmann (Ed.): Deutsche Comicforschung 2012 . comicplus +, Hildesheim 2011, ISBN 978-3-89474-218-8 , p. 47.

Coordinates: 52 ° 23 ′ 9.5 ″  N , 9 ° 44 ′ 0.3 ″  E