GEA Group

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GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft

legal form Corporation
ISIN DE0006602006
founding 1881
Seat Dusseldorf , GermanyGermanyGermany 
Number of employees 18,490
sales 4,880 million euros (2019)
Branch Special machine construction, plant construction
As of December 31, 2019

The former GEA Center in Bochum
Aerial photo of the former GEA Center (Bochum)

The GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft (short GEA Group until 2000 Metallgesellschaft , 2000-2005 mg technologies ) is a listed industrial group ( MDAX ), based in Dusseldorf . The group has more than 250 operating subsidiaries worldwide that supply process technology and components for various production processes, especially in the food and beverage industry. The group emerged from Metallgesellschaft , a company for raw materials trading , metallurgy and plant engineering founded by Wilhelm Merton in Frankfurt am Main in 1881 . From 1990 to 1996 the metal company was represented in the DAX . In 1999 the metal company took over the majority in the plant manufacturer GEA (Society for dedusting systems), which was founded in Bochum in 1920 . After various restructuring measures, the company renamed GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft in 2005 and relocated its headquarters to Bochum. The company has had its headquarters in Düsseldorf since 2011.


History of the metal company

Reuterweg 14, headquarters of the metal company from 1905 to 1994

The metal company was founded in Frankfurt am Main in 1881 by Wilhelm Merton together with Leo Ellinger , Zacharias Hochschild (1854–1912) and Carl Hamburger and expanded into a global group with a focus on raw materials trading and mining by the First World War . In 1897 the Metallgesellschaft founded the Metallurgische Gesellschaft (from 1919 Lurgi ) for the construction of plants for the processing of ores and for the extraction of the non-ferrous metals contained. In 1902, Merton's sons, Alfred and Richard Merton, joined the company.

Due to its numerous holding companies in all important industrial countries, the Metallgesellschaft, in conjunction with the Group's own mining and metal bank, controlled a considerable part of the global metal trade, especially with non-ferrous metals . In 1913 the economist Robert Liefmann attacked Merton publicly for this. Lenin used Liefmann's organization chart of the metal company to illustrate the global interdependence of monopoly capitalism .

The First World War hit the company, in whose listed Frankfurt headquarters once the daily world copper price was set, very hard - it lost a large part of its foreign holdings. In 1917, after Wilhelm Merton's death, Richard Merton took over the chairmanship of the board of directors.

After the breakdown of the foreign raw material base, the metal company initially turned to the domestic processing sector. In addition to her holdings in the Norddeutsche Affinerie , the Heddernheimer Kupferwerke and the Duisburger Metallhütte , which existed before the First World War , she took over the Hans-Heinrich-Hütte in Langelsheim in 1921 and began the production of lithium compounds . In the 1920s, the company also entered the shipping business with the takeover of Unterweser Reederei and Lehnkering . In 1924 the metal company became the majority owner of the metal processing company Kolbenschmidt in Neckarsulm . In 1926 she took over the majority in Sachtleben AG for mining and chemical industry in Cologne . In 1930 the metal company consolidated its holdings in the Heddernheimer Kupferwerke in the United German Metalworks , which were based at the production site in Frankfurt-Heddernheim . With further production facilities in Altena , Duisburg . Gustavsburg , Cologne, Mannheim , Nuremberg and Werdohl , VDM became the largest manufacturer of raw, semi-finished and finished products made of non-ferrous metals and alloys.

Alfred and Richard Merton were expelled from all public offices by the National Socialists because of their Jewish origins . Alfred emigrated to the USA in 1934, Richard was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp during the November pogroms in 1938 . His private assets were confiscated and he and his family were able to flee to London in 1939 . As a result, as part of the Aryanization process , the German Reich appointed a state commissioner as chairman of the board of the war-economically important company.

In 1946, the metal company participated in the founding of the Frankfurt rubble recycling company , which was respected in Germany and around the world.From 1949 to 1960, it produced building material for the reconstruction of around 100,000 buildings destroyed in the air raids on Frankfurt in the processing and recycling plant for rubble in Frankfurt-Bornheim .

In 1947, the OMGUS report found that the metal company was not benefiting from the war economy. The US investigator in charge also emphasized that the company neither employed concentration camp workers nor deliberately participated in the war machine. The company's production facilities were not spared from bombing during the Second World War , but were able to resume work soon after the end of the war. Due to the loss of the Eastern Territories , the group lost an important raw material market.

Richard Merton returned to Frankfurt from exile in 1948 and became a member of the company's board of directors. The growing demand for raw materials during the post-war period initially led to an upturn in trading. In the 1950s and 1960s, plant engineering became another focus of business activity alongside trade and production. In the further post-war period, the company developed into a conglomerate that invested and grew in a variety of industries. In 1965 the group generated sales of around DM 3.1 billion and employed 30,700 people.

In memory of the company's founder, the metal company set up the Wilhelm Merton Foundation on the occasion of its centenary . In 1990 the Metallgesellschaft employed 31,700 people and achieved an annual turnover of 19.8 billion DM. In 1990 the Metallgesellschaft was included in the DAX , from which it left in 1996 in favor of Telekom . In 1991, the metal company took over Feldmühle Nobel AG and integrated its chemical and technical departments into the group as Dynamit Nobel and Buderus , while the paper production was sold on to the Swedish Stora Group.

History of the original GEA

In 1920, Otto Happel senior was in Herne / Bochum. the company for dedusting systems (GEA) founded. In addition to the air filter system business, the heat exchanger area was added to the company's product portfolio relatively quickly. Under the leadership of Otto Happel , son of the company's founder, GEA finally made the oval finned tube and the air cooling technology known worldwide in this branch of industry. In 1989 the company went public. Various larger acquisitions such as Grasso, Niro, Westfalia Separator and Tuchenhagen followed, especially in the first half of the 1990s . In 1995 the company achieved sales of around EUR 2 billion with 17,000 employees. In 1999, through the takeover by Metallgesellschaft, GEA AG became a subgroup of the Frankfurt company and Happel became a major shareholder in Metallgesellschaft with a 10% stake.

Downfall of the old metal company

The company came to the brink of insolvency in 1993 as a result of the oil futures deals of CEO Heinz Schimmelbusch , reinforced by public disputes with the chairman of the supervisory board, Ronaldo Schmitz . Schmitz dismissed both Schimmelbusch and the CFO Meinhard Forster and dissolved the forward transactions with a high loss. Karl-Josef Neukirchen was appointed as the new CEO . Critics, such as in the book “Der Machtkampf” , complain that Schmitz allowed himself to be guided by personal animosity in dealing with the crisis and that he acted primarily for the benefit of Deutsche Bank and not for the benefit of the metal company. In addition, the losses only arose due to the termination of the futures business - Schmitz and his consultants simply did not understand the business, an opinion that is still held by critics today. However, this point of view contradicts a special report prepared on the subject, which burdened Schimmelbusch and Forster with the disaster. In 1997 the metal company reached an agreement with the two former board members.

Restructuring and realignment

The wave was created from 1998 to 2003 on the former site of the metal company in Frankfurt's Westend

Neukirchen realigned the ailing company, of the previously more than 700 subsidiaries, only 380 remained after extensive restructuring, the group concentrated on its four core areas of trade, plant engineering, chemicals and construction technology. The “actual” metal company was converted into a holding company that ran the four subsidiaries. The chemical activities were now consolidated in Dynamit Nobel , the plant construction in Lurgi . In 1994 the company sold its 25,000 square meter headquarters in Frankfurt's Westend and moved into an office building on Bockenheimer Landstrasse . In the following years, the company tried to strategically strengthen the four areas through targeted acquisitions.

In 1999 the concentration process that had been started was continued: Two of the four pillars were sold - the building technology division (mg building systems) and metal trading. Metallgesellschaft thus parted with its tradition as a raw material- oriented company. The engineering and chemistry areas remained. With the separation from the raw materials area, the traditional group name also became obsolete - in February 2000 the general meeting decided to rename the metal company to mg technologies .

In 2003, the company got into another crisis due to difficulties in large-scale plant construction. The chairman of the board, Neukirchen, had to announce a serious downsizing, the mg share lost massively in value. Happel then doubled his stake to 20% and forced Neukirchen, whom he also accused of falsifying accounts, to resign. The new CEO Udo Stark brought about a course correction - instead of the "two-pillar strategy", the company has since concentrated on special machine construction with a focus on process technology and components, as well as on plant construction. The chemical business with the subgroups Dynamit Nobel and Solvadis was sold for around two billion euros in order to drastically reduce the high level of debt.

In the end, Happel was also dissatisfied with CEO Stark, who was enthroned by himself and forced him to resign as well. In November 2004, Jürg Oleas was finally appointed CEO, who was replaced by today's CEO Stefan Klebert in 2019. Under Oleas' leadership, the company strategy was changed and the loss-making plant construction was made available. This was mainly due to the re profitable Lurgi Group, 2007, Air Liquide was sold for a price of 200 million euros, and the high-deficit plant engineering company Lentjes that for the symbolic price of one euro to the Austrian A-Tec Industries also was submitted in 2007.

Change of name and relocation of the company headquarters

In the meantime, the remaining shareholders of GEA AG were compensated by a squeeze-out in 2004 and mg technologies merged with the now wholly owned subsidiary GEA AG in 2005. Mg technologies was then renamed GEA Group AG and the company headquarters moved from Frankfurt to Bochum, the headquarters of the old GEA AG.

As a result of this restructuring, the GEA Group's share price recovered and Otto Happel finally sold his 20% stake in March 2006. In June 2010, the Supervisory Board decided to move the administration to Düsseldorf by 2011 . Offices in the Airport City were rented there. The move of the holding company to Düsseldorf was confirmed by the annual general meeting in 2011.

Headframe of the mine

Stresses from previous activities occurred. Mine water containing heavy metals has been leaking from the former pebble mine near Meggen , which was last operated by the metal company . As the legal successor to Metallgesellschaft, the GEA Group has to bear the costs of processing as perpetual costs. This mining law requirement was last confirmed on January 26, 2012 by the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia . A revision was not allowed.

Structure of the GEA Group

The former large plant construction business was sold in 2007:

With effect from January 1, 2010, the GEA Group's business was reclassified into five new segments without the Group's portfolio as a whole having changed. On March 24, 2011, another segment was added with the takeover of the Dutch Convenience Food Systems (CFS) based in Bakel. This segment was renamed “GEA Food Solutions” in 2012, and in 2014 it was merged with the GEA Mechanical Equipment segment.

The segments were:

The sale of the GEA Heat Exchangers Segment to the financial investor Triton Partners was announced in April 2014. In 2014, the Düsseldorf mechanical engineering company announced the “Fit for 2020” program. The group integrated the previous segments and is now organized into two business areas ("Equipment" and "Solutions").


  • Thomas Knipp: The power struggle. The Metallgesellschaft and Deutsche Bank case. Econ Verlag, Düsseldorf and Munich 1998, ISBN 3-430-15494-4 .

Web links

Commons : GEA Group  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Annual Report 2018 , accessed on March 22, 2019
  2. a b Annual Report 2019 , accessed on May 14, 2020
  3. ^ Robert Liefmann : The international organization of the Frankfurt metal trade . In: Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv , 1, 1913, pp. 108–122
  4. GEA sells Lurgi Group to Air Liquide , April 17, 2007.
  5. ^ Gea moves from Bochum to Düsseldorf , June 23, 2010.
  6. Press release of the OVG on the judgment  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  7. ^ Plastics Web: Technip: Plant manufacturer acquires polymer technologies. Retrieved April 13, 2018 .
  8. 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 .

Coordinates: 51 ° 16 ′ 31.6 ″  N , 6 ° 46 ′ 16.5 ″  E