History of Huls AG http://www.degussa-history.com/geschichte/en/predecessors/huels.html
The buna works
The history of the Huls company began on May 9, 1938, when Chemische Werke Huls was founded in Marl. Under the Reich Government’s four-year plan in preparation for war, I.G. Farben Industrie AG invested 74 percent and mining company Hibernia 26 percent in the founding of the Huls company. This step marked the beginning of cooperation between the world’s largest chemicals group at the time and the mining sector of the then state-owned VEBA AG. This collaboration was dedicated to the production of synthetic rubber buna (スチレン・ブタジエンゴム e.g. for tire manufacture) and ethylene oxide derivatives. The location selected was favorable in view of the situation given at the time - being situated on the Wesel-Datteln Canal and close to coking plants and hydration works - and enabled the development of a production circuit. The Bergwerksgesellschaft Hibernia supplied the coke furnace gas from its coking plants, from which Huls made acetylene and ethylene employing the arcing method. The resulting hydrogen was returned to the hydration works, where coal was liquefied, hydrogen added and gasoline produced. The acetylene was further processed in a four-stage operation to produce buna, while the ethylene was processed via ethylene oxide into a frost protection agent for engines, for example.
Huls and I.G. Farben
At management level, I.G. Farbenindustrie AG kept the Bergwerksgesellschaft Hibernia in the role of a junior partner. The sites in Marl occupied by the new company came from IG Farben. They were leased to Huls and Huls received the production patents free-of-charge from I.G. Farben, which reserved right of ownership to all improvements and sold the manufactured products on a centralized basis. Hibernia received no market information. The first batches of buna were delivered on August 29, 1940. Up to foreman level, management personnel came from other IG Farbenindustrie AG works and the employees were initially recruited from the Munster area. As of 1941 forced labor was also brought in from the Soviet Union, Poland, Slovakia, Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
As part of a scientific study presently being carried out by Dr. Paul Erker, Munich, and Dr. Bernhard Lorentz, Hamburg, into the history of Huls between 1938 and 1979, much attention is being given to the previously partially unexposed role of the Huls chemical works during the National Socialist period. The study is due to be published in late Summer 2003.
Post war period and
After the end of the Second World War, Huls became part of the deglomerated I.G. Farbenindustrie under British administration and was classified as a “Prohibited industry II”, i.e. it had to seek a new product base, since buna production was banned over the medium term. Moreover, the company had to become an independent joint stock company, i.e. it had to reorganize sales, research and application techniques into completely new departments.
On January 1, 1953 its name was changed to Chemische Werke Huls AG. Some 50 percent of new company belonged to a chemical administration company, a successor organization to the deglomerated I.G. Farbenindustrie AG, in which Bayer AG, the former Hoechst AG, and also BASF AG, which had succeeded I.G. Farbenindustrie, held stocks. A further 25 percent of the stocks were held by the Kohleverwertungsgesellschaft, in which the Gelsenkirchen Bergwerksaktiengesellschaft (GBAG), Ruhrgas AG and Steinkohle-Energie AG (STEAG) each had a one-third interest. The remaining 25 percent belonged to Bergwerksgesellschaft Hibernia AG.
At this juncture in the history of Huls AG three lines of commerce are discernible, along which the history of Huls AG unfolded:
Production, products and marketing post 1953
In the post war period Chemische Werke Huls AG became a basic chemical works. After 1945, high volume production of products such as surfactants, polyvinyl chloride, varnish raw materials, polystyrene and softeners commenced.
In the 1950s polyethylene, polypropylene were added, and buna production started up again. In the 1960s a trend began towards specialty chemicals and technical polymers. Isophoron derivatives were added in 1979. The latter are varnish raw materials for high-tech applications. e.g. the external varnishing of the Space shuttle.
In the 1970s research and applications technology took second place to marketing philosophy. Sales offices organized the marketing of products in the Federal Republic of Germany and agencies were active internationally ? the first, towards the end of the 1950s, being Huls Far East Ltd. in Hong Kong.
In the 1960s agencies followed in Western Europe and the network spread worldwide in the 1970s. While international joint ventures had been set up in the 1960s in Marl (Katalysatorenwerke Houdry-Huls GmbH, Faserwerke Huls GmbH with Eastman Kodak), in the 1970s foreign subsidiaries and joint ventures were created (Servo B.V. in Delden/Netherlands and Daicel-Huls Ltd. in Osaka/Japan).
From 1988 the product structure was strategically changed in favor of specialty chemicals with a move towards silicon and fat-chemicals and in the 1990s the production of surfactants, polyethylene/polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride was abandoned.
Change in the company's
Until 1979 Chemische Werke Huls AG was bound by several interests and directives through its many owners. Throughout, the company remained under the influence of Bayer AG, which prevented Huls from venturing into Bayer’s own business areas. Furthermore, the company was dependent on Bergwerksgesellschaft Hibernia AG, in order to obtain Ziegler licenses for the manufacture of polyethylene and polypropylene.
Via the mining company Hibernia AG, which held 25% of the shares in Huls, the company acquired the highly productive Ziegler patents which made possible non-pressurized, oil-based manufacture of polyethelene. In order to manufacture and market VESTOLEN, Hibernia AG and Huls AG entered into a joint venture, VESTOLEN GmbH, in the mid-1950s.
Towards the end of 1997, the Dutch company DSM bought Vestolen, the polyolefins business of Veba, Germany, giving DSM an additional 150,000 t pa HDPE and 200,000 t pa PP.
From 1979 Huls belonged exclusively to
which concentrated its chemical activities in this subsidiary and
it was then able to develop an international expansion strategy.
By acquiring companies - the chemical section of Dynamit Nobel AG (1988, silicon and fat-chemicals
in the Rheinfelden and Witten works) - and the subsequent
purchases of Rohm GmbH (1989, methacrylates) and Stockhausen GmbH (1991, superabsorbents), the
company changed direction towards specialty chemicals.
Since the company works had been built on greenfield sites and 3,000 families had already relocated to Marl between 1938 and 1940, new social centers had to be created, some of which are still important today. For example the “Feierabendhaus“ (After-Hours Club) changed from an exclusively social meeting place with a restaurant, cinema, theatre, concerts and educational lectures, into the “Marcotel“, the restaurant of the present day “Marl Chemicals Park” and Degussa AG further training center. There are still works-related clubs in the form of sports clubs with their own facilities, as well as the “Marl Music Association” with a choir and orchestra, and a works choir.
Huls in the 1990s
Even after 1979, as Huls AG added several sites (Herne works group, Scholven works, Bottrop, Witten, Troisdorf, Lulsdorf, Rheinfelden, and Steyerberg), Marl still predominated as by far the largest works and the headquarters of management and all the respective departments. It was only when Rohm (1989) and Stockhausen (1991) were added, retaining their organization, that things start to change. The silicon chemicals business, for example, moved its headquarters to Dusseldorf.
Following further restructuring, Huls AG became an internationally operating management holding on January 1, 1998, with subsidiaries all over the world. After merging with Degussa AG to become Degussa-Huls AG in February 1999, it increased its focus on specialty chemicals. The works in Marl became a “Chemicals Park”, operated by a subsidiary company, Infracor GmbH. Other companies are also based there, manufacturing and marketing what were formerly major Huls products, e.g. surfactants 界面活性剤 by the SASOL Corp., polystyrene by BP and polyvinyl chloride by Vestolit GmbH.
VESTOLIT GmbH & Co. KG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of today's Degussa-Huls AG, took over the appropriate business and production units of the then Huls AG.
VESTOLIT GmbH & Co. KG was acquired by a finance consortium led by a group of international investors under the leadership of Candover plc., based in London, and D. George Harris & Associates, based in New York.