|Type||Limited partnership with personally liable partners|
|Founder(s)||Hans and Paul Berenberg|
|Key people||Hans-Walter Peters
|Products||Investment banking, institutional asset management, private banking, commercial banking, mergers and acquisitions, art consultancy|
|Revenue||€ 3.4 billion (2009)|
Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, commonly known as Berenberg Bank and branded as Berenberg, is a German multinational financial institution, primarily a merchant bank and a private bank, set up under the legal form of a limited partnership (Kommanditgesellschaft) with personally liable partners and based in Hamburg. Founded by the Berenberg family, emigrants from Antwerp in modern Belgium, in 1590, it is the oldest bank in existence in Germany and the second oldest bank in the world. Since its establishment, the bank has been continuously owned by a Hanseatic family dynasty comprising the three related families Berenberg, Gossler and Seyler, making it the world's oldest family-owned bank. The Berenbergs were originally members of the Dutch merchant colony in Hamburg and received the same rights as the Hamburg burghers in 1605. They were hereditary grand burghers of Hamburg and thus members of its ruling class from 1684 and members of the Senate from 1735. Ennobled in 1888 and raised to baronial rank in 1910, the von Berenberg-Gossler family, descendants of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg, still owns a significant share of the bank.
The company was originally a merchant house active in large-scale import-export, and became involved in both shipping and merchant banking in the 17th century. Today Berenberg Bank is one of the leading independent merchant banks and private banks of Europe, with around €26 billion assets under management and 1,300 employees. Its core areas are investment banking, institutional asset management, private banking for wealthy private customers and commercial banking. Berenberg Bank is also well known for its securities research. The company was renamed Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. under the leadership of Ludwig Erdwin Seyler in 1791, after the death of his father in law Johann Hinrich Gossler.
Headquartered in Hamburg, the bank has offices in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Munich, Stuttgart, and other German cities as well as in Zurich, Geneva, Luxembourg, London, Paris, New York, Boston, Salzburg, Vienna, and Shanghai. It has several subsidiaries, including the Swiss subsidiary Berenberg Bank (Schweiz) AG, the Luxembourg subsidiary Berenberg Lux Invest S.A. (asset management) and the U.S. subsidiary Berenberg Capital Markets LLC. It also has a subsidiary providing art consultancy, and owns 50% of Universal Investment, one of Germany's leading investment companies with €143 billion assets under management. The Berenberg Bank Stiftung is a philanthropic foundation established in 1990 on the occasion of the bank's 400th anniversary.
Berenberg Bank has been the co-founder of many other companies and banks, among them the Hamburg America Line, Norddeutscher Lloyd, Norddeutsche Bank, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Danske Bank, Handelsbanken, and what is now the HypoVereinsbank. Described as a "private bank like out of a storybook", Berenberg Bank has been named "Best Private Bank in Germany" by the Financial Times, ahead of Deutsche Bank, and its Swiss subsidiary as one of the "best banks in Switzerland". The bank is noted for its conservative business strategy and investment policy, and experienced significant growth following the 2000s financial crisis.
The bank was founded in Hamburg, Germany, as a commercial firm by Dutch-born Hans and Paul (II) Berenberg in the year 1590, and is thus the oldest existing German bank. In 1585, the Protestant Berenbergs left Antwerp, Flanders, at the time one of Europe's commercial centres, as Dutch Protestants were given the choice either to convert to Catholicism or leave the country. The bank has been continuously owned by their descendants ever since; the Berenberg family is also descended from many other prominent banking families including the Welser family.
In 1768 Senator Paul Berenberg died childless, while his brother Johann Berenberg lost his only son in the same year. To ensure the continuation of the firm, Johann Berenberg took on his son-in-law Johann Hinrich Gossler (1738–90) as a new partner in 1769. Gossler was the scion of an ancient Hamburg family which had been resident in Hamburg since the 14th century and had married Berenberg's only daughter Elisabeth Berenberg (1749–1822) the previous year. The Hamburg Berenberg family became extinct in 1822 upon the death of Elisabeth Berenberg. Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg have descendants in Germany and Norway named Goßler, von Berenberg-Gossler, Seyler, von Hosstrup, Pinckernelle, Burchard, Wegner, Amsinck, Paus, Kaemmerer and von Bernstorff, among other names.
In 1788 Johann Hinrich Gossler took on a new partner, his son-in-law Ludwig Erdwin Seyler (1758–1836) (the son of Swiss-born theatre director Abel Seyler and stepson of Friederike Sophie Seyler, the author of Hüon und Amande that inspired The Magic Flute), who had married his eldest daughter Anna Henriette Gossler (1771–1836). From 1790, the company was led by Ludwig Seyler. His brother-in-law Johann Heinrich Gossler (II) (1775-1842) joined the firm in 1798 and became a Hamburg senator in 1821. Under Seyler's leadership, the company name was changed to Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. in 1791. In the company name, Joh. Berenberg refers to Johann Berenberg (1718–1772), Gossler refers to Johann Hinrich Gossler and Co. originally refers to Ludwig Erdwin Seyler.
Johann Heinrich Gossler (II)'s son Hermann Gossler (1802–1877) was a senator and First Mayor of Hamburg, while his son Johann Heinrich Gossler (III) (1805–1879) continued the firm. Johann Heinrich Gossler (III) was the father of Baron Johann von Berenberg-Gossler (1839–1913). In 1880 the Hamburg Senate granted the family the name of Berenberg-Gossler, and in 1888, the family was ennobled in the Kingdom of Prussia as von Berenberg-Gossler. In 1910 Johann von Berenberg-Gossler was raised to the Baronial rank. Baron Johann von Berenberg-Gossler was the father of John von Berenberg-Gossler (1866–1943), a Senator and German Ambassador in Rome.
In the 19th century, the bank financed the industrialisation process in Hamburg and transportation activities, and was strongly involved in the North American trade and its finance. The company was (together with the merchant house H.J. Merck & Co.) one of the main founders of Germany's largest shipping companies, the Hamburg America Line (HAPAG) in 1847 and Norddeutscher Lloyd in 1857. They were also one of the main founders of Vereinsbank Hamburg (now the HypoVereinsbank) (1857), the Ilseder Hütte ironworks (1858), and the Norddeutsche Versicherungs AG (1857). The houses of Berenberg-Gossler, H.J. Merck and Salomon Heine were also the main founders of the Norddeutsche Bank in 1856, the first joint-stock bank in northern Germany and one of the predecessors of Deutsche Bank. Furthermore, Berenberg Bank was among the founding shareholders of Bergens Privatbank (1855), the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (1865), Den Danske Landmandsbank (1871) and Svenska Handelsbanken (1871).
The company's logo is the coat of arms of the Berenberg and Gossler families, featuring the Berenberg bear (used since the 16th century) and the Gossler goose foot (adopted in 1773 by Johann Hinrich Gossler).
The bank is active in the following business segments:
- Private banking for wealthy private customers (typically, the minimum required to open an account is € 1 million)
- Investment banking
- Institutional asset management
- Commercial banking
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Art consultancy
- Investment funds (through its subsidiary Universal Investment)
Berenberg Bank has its head office in Hamburg and operates branches in Bielefeld, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, London, Luxembourg, Paris and Salzburg, as well as representative offices in Braunschweig, Zurich, and Shanghai. Zurich moreover accommodates the subsidiary Berenberg Bank (Schweiz) AG. Together with three other financial institutions, the bank additionally holds a stake in Frankfurt-based investment company Universal-Investment-Gesellschaft.
Berenberg Bank Stiftung
The Berenberg Bank Stiftung is a philanthropic foundation founded in 1990 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the establishment of Berenberg Bank. The chairman of the board is Joachim von Berenberg-Consbruch. The foundation awards several prizes, including the Berenberg Culture Prize to younger artists and the Berenberg Scholarships to individual artists and groups. From 2009, the Universitäts-Gesellschaft Hamburg has awarded the Berenberg Prize for Scientific Language, that promotes German as a scientific language.
The ownership structure is as follows:
- von Berenberg-Gossler family 25%
- PetRie Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH (Hans-Walter Peters, Hendrik Riehmer) and Managing Partners 25%
- Christian Erbprinz zu Fürstenberg 15%
- Jan Philipp Reemtsma 15%
- Compagnie du Bois Sauvage S.A. 12%.
Berenberg Bank is run by the three personally liable partners, currently Hans-Walter Peters, Andreas Brodtmann and Hendrik Riehmer. The last member of the Berenberg family to take an active role in the bank (albeit not as a partner) was Countess Jennifer von Bernstorff, a great-granddaughter of Cornelius von Berenberg-Gossler.
- Berenberg family
|No||Picture||Name and lifespan||Period||Head of the company||Relation to the Berenberg family|
|5||Rudolf Berenberg (1623–1672)||1645–1672|
|8||Senator Rudolf Berenberg
|10||Senator Paul Berenberg
|12||Johann Hinrich Gossler
|1769‒1790||1772–1790||Husband of Elisabeth Berenberg; son-in-law of Johann Berenberg|
|14||Ludwig Erdwin Seyler
|1788–1836||1790–1836||Husband of Anna Henriette Gossler; son-in-law of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg|
|15||Elisabeth Gossler née Berenberg
|1790‒1800||Daughter of Johann Berenberg; the last male line Berenberg by birth and only woman ever to be a partner|
|16||Senator Johann Heinrich Gossler
|1798 ‒1842||1836–1842||Son of Elisabeth Berenberg and J.H. Gossler|
|17||Johann Heinrich Gossler
|19||Baron John von Berenberg-Gossler
|21||Senator John von Berenberg-Gossler
|22||Baron Cornelius von Berenberg-Gossler (1874–1953)||1898–1953|
|23||Andreas von Berenberg-Gossler (1880–1938)||1908–1923|
|26||Baron Heinrich von Berenberg-Gossler
|32||Joachim von Berenberg-Consbruch||1978‒2005||1979–2005|
- Non-family partners
|No||Picture||Name||Period||Head of the company||Notes|
|13||Franz Friedrich Kruckenberg
|1777‒1819||Joined Berenberg as an accountant and later became a partner. He was married to Johann Hinrich Gossler's younger sister Margaretha Katharina Gossler (1749–1795) and was thus the brother-in-law of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg, but not on the Berenberg side of the family.|
|28||Heinz A. Lessing||1961–1979|
|30||Joachim H. Wetzel||1968–1998|
|31||Baron Peter von Kap-Herr||1976–1999|
|35||Hans-Walter Peters||Since 2000||Since 2005|
|36||Guido M. Sollors||2004–2008|
|37||Andreas Brodtmann||Since 2009|
|38||Hendrik Riehmer||Since 2009|
- After Monte dei Paschi di Siena
- Christoph Schenck: "Berenberg, Deutschlands älteste Bank". In: Heritage. Nr. 2, 2004, ISSN 1613-2068, pp. 32–33.
- German bank enters UK market, Wold Finance
- Christian Siedenbiedel (24.10.2009), "Die Bank der feinen Hanseaten," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
- Volker Mester (24.07.2003), "Deutschlands älteste Bank," Hamburger Abendblatt
- Auszeichnungen: Berenberg - 'eine Privatbank wie aus dem Bilderbuch', Wallstreet Online
- Johann Heinrich Goßler II, Neue Deutsche Biographie
- Manfred Pohl, Sabine Freitag, Handbook on the History of European Banks, European Association for Banking History, 1994
- Michael North: "The Great German Banking Houses and International Merchants, Sixteenth to Nineteenth Century", in: Alice Teichova, Ginette Kurgan-Van Hentenryk and Dieter Ziegler (eds.), Banking, Trade and Industry: Europe, America and Asia from the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN 9780521188876, p. 46
- The banking house in the period of promoterism, berenberg.de
- Berenberg Bank Stiftung
- Maria Möring, Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. Hamburg, Hamburg, Wirtschaftsgeschichtliche Forschungsstelle, 1961
- Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co.: Die Geschichte eines deutschen Privatbankhauses, Berenberg Bank, Hamburg 1990
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