Berenberg Bank

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"Berenberg" redirects here. For the banking family, see Berenberg family. For other uses, see Berenberg (disambiguation).
Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co.
Limited partnership with personally liable partners
Industry Financial services
Founded 1590; 425 years ago (1590)
Founder Hans and Paul Berenberg
Headquarters Hamburg, Germany
Area served
Key people
Hans-Walter Peters
Andreas Brodtmann
Hendrik Riehmer
Products Investment banking, institutional asset management, private banking, commercial banking, securities research, mergers and acquisitions, art consultancy
Revenue € 4.5 billion (2013)
Number of employees
> 1300

Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co., commonly known as Berenberg Bank and branded as Berenberg, is a German multinational financial institution headquartered in Hamburg, primarily an investment bank and a private bank. It is the world's oldest merchant bank, the world's oldest private bank, the world's second oldest bank overall and the oldest German bank.[1]

The bank was founded in Hamburg in 1590 by Hans and Paul Berenberg, brothers from Antwerp in modern Belgium. The bank has been continuously owned by their descendants, a Hanseatic family dynasty comprising the three related families Berenberg, Gossler and Seyler, who were among the leading families of the city-state of Hamburg. The bank is organized as a limited partnership with personally liable partners.

The Berenbergs had been cloth merchants since the 15th century, and the company was originally a merchant house active in large-scale cloth import-export. It quickly extended its activities to other commodities and became involved in both shipping and merchant banking in the 17th century. Today Berenberg Bank is one of the leading independent investment banks and private banks of Europe, with over €30 billion assets under management[2] and 1,300 employees. Its core areas are investment banking, institutional asset management, private banking for wealthy private customers and corporate banking. Berenberg Bank is also well known for its securities research.[3][4][5] The company's current name Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co., which was adopted under the leadership of Ludwig Erdwin Seyler in 1791, refers to Johann Berenberg, his son-in-law Johann Hinrich Gossler, and the latter's son-in-law Seyler (the "Co." part).

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. In recent years its London office in Threadneedle Street has grown rapidly to become Berenberg's second largest office, focusing on investment banking and private banking for the ultra wealthy.[6] Berenberg 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. Berenberg owns 50% of Universal Investment, one of Germany's leading investment companies with €143 billion assets under management. In 2014, Berenberg Bank applied for an American banking license, to launch full investment bank services in the United States.[7] 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",[8] 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".[9] The bank is noted for its conservative business strategy and investment policy, and experienced significant growth following the 2000s financial crisis.[10]


Main article: Berenberg family
Coat of arms of the Berenberg family (detail, 1710)

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.

Cornelius Berenberg (1634–1711)

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. Seyler's 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. effective from 1 January 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.[11][12]

Mortzenhaus, the company's seat from 1788

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.[13] 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).[14]


A stylized version of the combined Berenberg–Gossler coat of arms used as the logo of Berenberg Bank

The company's logo is a stylized version of the combined coat of arms of the Berenberg and Gossler families, featuring the Berenberg bear (adopted in the 16th century in Belgium) and the Gossler goose foot (adopted in 1773 by Johann Hinrich Gossler).

Business segments[edit]

The bank is active in the following business segments:


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 Bankhaus Lampe, the bank additionally holds a stake in the Frankfurt-based investment company Universal Investment.

Berenberg Bank Stiftung[edit]

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.[16]


The ownership structure is as follows:

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
1 Hans Berenberg
2 Paul Berenberg
3 Hans Berenberg
4 Johann Berenberg
5 Rudolf Berenberg (1623–1672) 1645–1672
6 Cornelius Berenberg.jpg Cornelius Berenberg
7 Johann Berenberg
8 Senator Rudolf Berenberg
9 Rudolf Berenberg
10 Senator Paul Berenberg
11 Johann Berenberg.jpg Johann Berenberg
12 JohannHinrichGossler.jpg Johann Hinrich Gossler
1769‒1790 1772–1790 Husband of Elisabeth Berenberg; son-in-law of Johann Berenberg
14 Ludwig Erdwin Seyler.jpg Ludwig Erdwin Seyler
1788–1836 1790–1836 Husband of Anna Henriette Gossler; son-in-law of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
15 Elisabeth Berenberg.jpg 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 Johann Heinrich Gossler 1775.jpg Senator Johann Heinrich Gossler
1798 ‒1842 1836–1842 Son of Elisabeth Berenberg and J.H. Gossler
17 Johann Hinrich Gossler III.jpeg Johann Heinrich Gossler
18 Wilhelm Gossler (1811-1895).png Wilhelm Gossler
19 John von Berenberg-Gossler.png Baron John von Berenberg-Gossler
20 Ernst Gossler 1873–1893
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
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.
24 Heinrich Burchard 1920‒1930
25 Walter Gleich 1923–1930
27 August Rohdewald 1948–1961
28 Heinz A. Lessing 1961–1979
29 Karl-Theodor Lindemann 1964–1972
30 Joachim H. Wetzel 1968–1998
31 Baron Peter von Kap-Herr 1976–1999
32 Joachim von Berenberg-Consbruch 1978‒2005 1979–2005 He was born Joachim von Consbruch. His mother was married in her second marriage to Cornelius von Berenberg-Gossler, and he subsequently combined his stepfather's name with his own family name.
33 Claus-G. Budelmann 1988–2008
34 Andreas Odefey 1998–2000
35 Hans-Walter Peters Since 2000 Since 2005
36 Guido M. Sollors 2004–2008
37 Andreas Brodtmann Since 2009
38 Hendrik Riehmer Since 2009

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gail Rolland, Market Players: A Guide to the Institutions in Today's Financial Markets, Wiley, 2011, ISBN 047097687X, p. 110
  2. ^ Investment banking grows at Germany's oldest bank,
  3. ^ German bank enters UK market, Wold Finance
  4. ^ Christian Siedenbiedel (24.10.2009), "Die Bank der feinen Hanseaten," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
  5. ^ Volker Mester (24.07.2003), "Deutschlands älteste Bank," Hamburger Abendblatt
  6. ^
  7. ^ Germany’s oldest bank to take on Wall Street,
  8. ^ Auszeichnungen: Berenberg - 'eine Privatbank wie aus dem Bilderbuch', Wallstreet Online
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Johann Heinrich Goßler II, Neue Deutsche Biographie
  12. ^ Manfred Pohl, Sabine Freitag, Handbook on the History of European Banks, European Association for Banking History, 1994
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ The banking house in the period of promoterism,
  15. ^ Berenberg will nur Millionäre, Handelsblatt
  16. ^ 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

External links[edit]