KWS Saat

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Societas Europaea
Traded as FWBKWS
Industry Agriculture, Biotechnology
Predecessor (1856) Rabbethge, Giesecke & Reinecke OHG (offene Handelsgesellschaft)
(1864) Rabbethge & Giesecke OHG
(1885) Conversion of the OHG into Zuckerfabrik (sugar refinery) Klein Wanzleben formerly Rabbethge & Giesecke AG
(1937) Rabbethge & Giesecke AG
(1946) Rescue company Rabbethge & Giesecke Saatzucht GmbH
(1951) Kleinwanzlebener Saatzucht formerly Rabbethge & Giesecke AG
(1975) KWS Kleinwanzlebener Saatzucht AG formerly Rabbethge & Giesecke
(1999) KWS SAAT AG
Founded Klein Wanzleben, Germany (1856 (1856))
Founder Matthias Christian Rabbethge
Headquarters Einbeck, Germany
Area served
Europe, North America, South America, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa
Key people
Hagen Duenbostel[1] (CEO), Andreas J. Büchting (Chairman of the supervisory board)
Products seeds varieties for : sugar beet, corn, rapeseed, cereals, energy crop
Revenue € 1,036.8 million (2015/2016)
€ 112.8 million (2015/2016)
€ 85.3 million (2015/2016)
Total equity € 763,0 million (2015/2016)
Owner As of September 27, 2016:
Families Büchting/Arend Oetker (52,5.0%)
Tessner Beteiligungs GmbH (15.4%)
free float (32.1%)
Number of employees
4,843 (2015/2016)[2]

the largest subsidiaries are:

AgReliant Genetics LLC., (50%)- (USA)
cereals: KWS LOCHOW GMBH (100%)- (Germany)

KWS SAAT SE (ISIN: DE0007074007) is an independent, family-owned German company that focuses on plant breeding, with activities in about 70 countries. KWS is the fifth largest seed producer worldwide based on sales.[3] The product range includes seed varieties for sugar beet, corn, cereals, rapeseed and potatoes. The capital letters "K," "W" and "S" in the name KWS stand for Klein Wanzlebener Saatzucht, which means seed breeding from Klein Wanzleben. The company’s original headquarters were in Klein Wanzleben, an East German town located near the city of Magdeburg. Its main markets are in the temperate climate zones of Europe, North and South America as well as North Africa and Asia. KWS has a network of more than 30 breeding stations, 130 testing stations and around 60 subsidiaries. In 1954, the company went public on the Hamburg-Hannover Stock Exchange and has been on the SDAX list of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since June 2006.


In 1838 the Kleinwanzleben Zuckerfabrik (Kleinwanzleben Sugar Refinery) was founded as a stock company.[4] In 1856 the majority of its shares were acquired by the sugar beet grower and farmer Matthias Christian Rabbethge, one of the pioneers of the German sugar industry. In the same year he and his then future son-in-law Julius Giesecke founded a general commercial partnership (OHG). In 1885 the Rabbethge & Giesecke OHG became a joint stock company (Aktiengesellschaft) under the name Zuckerfabrik Klein Wanzleben formerly Rabbethge & Giesecke Aktiengesellschaft (AG). In 1937 it was changed into Rabbethge & Giesecke AG because the Reichsnährstand did not want any anonymous investors in the agriculture and forestry sector. After the Second World War the company was relocated to the Lower Saxonian city of Einbeck which has been its headquarters since then. In 1946 a rescue company was established under the name Rabbethge & Giesecke Saatzucht GmbH. The foundation of this rescue company was necessary in order to continue the Western activities of the original joint stock company, which was still based in Klein Wanzleben.[5] In 1951 the two companies were merged and took the title Kleinwanzlebener Saatzucht formerly Rabbethge & Giesecke AG. In 1975 it was changed into KWS Kleinwanzlebener Saatzucht formerly Rabbethge & Giesecke and then finally reduced to KWS SAAT AG in 1999.The first international branch of KWS was established in 1900 in the Ukrainian town Vinnytsia to meet the demand of sugar beet farmers in Russia. In 1920 the company began to expand its business into corn, fodder beet and potato breeding. Following the relocation to Einbeck, KWS focused on the breeding of sugar beet, corn, rapeseed, sunflower, cereals and potatoes. In the years directly after the war, the company became an important supplier to the West German sugar beet industry. Since 1963 it has established subsidiaries in Europe, North and South America, Asia and North Africa.

Expansion and acquisitions[edit]

In the 1950s the company began intensifying its business in Western and South European countries. At the same time it also started to expand its activities in the US sugar beet market. In 1956 KWS established the company Segenta in Chile and Pan Tohum Islah ve Üretme A.S. in Turkey. In 1967/68 it began merging its cereal breeding activities with the companies Heine-Peragis and Lochow-Petkus GmbH. In 2008, KWS acquired Lochow-Petkus GmbH which was subsequently renamed KWS LOCHOW GMBH.[6] In 1968 KWS collaborated with the American plant breeder Northrup King Company to found the company Betaseed. In 1978 it founded KWS Seeds Inc. to manage all business activities in North America. In the 1990s the company acquired the Argentinean breeding company Trebol Sur which was then renamed KWS Argentina in 1997.

In 2000 the French plant breeding group Limagrain and KWS decided to merge their corn business in North America and formed the joint venture AgReliant. In 2003 KWS founded KWS Türk in Turkey to enhance the distribution of seeds in North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt) and Middle Eastern countries including Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.[7] In 2008 KWS and the Dutch Van Rijn Group established a joint venture in breeding potato seeds and in April 2011 KWS acquired the remaining interests in Van Rijn and formed the subsidiary KWS POTATO B.V.[8] In September 2011 it founded a joint venture with the Chinese company Kenfeng to manage the production and distribution of corn seed in China.[9] In October 2011 KWS and the French seed producer Vilmorin formed a research collaboration as a 50/50 joint venture company to develop GM corn traits.[10]

In June 2012 KWS acquired the Brazilian companies SEMÍLIA and DELTA that are located in Paraná and run four breeding stations in Brazil. On 1 July 2012 both companies merged to form KWS BRASIL PESQUISA & SEMENTES LTDA. As of 1 July 2012, KWS acquired a majority shareholder position in the company RIBER whose name was then changed to RIBER – KWS SEMENTES S.A. This company, situated in the Brazilian state Minas Gerais, will continue its focus on the Brazilian market through offering GM corn hybrids and soybean varieties.[11]

Research and collaboration[edit]

KWS is a supporter of GABI, a collaborative network of plant genomic research projects. GABI, an acronym for "Genomanalyse im biologischen System Pflanze - Genome Analysis in Biological System Plant," is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with the purpose to promote plant genome research in Germany.[12] From 2008- 2011 together with the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) it funded projects executed by the Federal Research Center for Cultivated Plants – Julius Kühn-Institut and University of Hohenheim’s Research Focus Biotechnology and Plant Breeding in Baden-Württemberg. The project topics include genetic improvement of resistance to fusariosis and avoidance of bird repellents by repellents from natural products.[13] The company and BASF Plant Science are also collaborating on a long-term project to develop sugar beet varieties with higher sugar and energy yields as well as greater drought tolerance.[14]


  1. ^ KWS. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 09 April 2015.
  2. ^ KWS. October 2016.
  3. ^ Investorenpräsentation KWS SAAT AG, September 2013,, Vilmorin presentation May 2013,
  4. ^ Detlef Diestel, "Sugar Refinery Klein Wanzleben from Foundation to 1917/18," in Landwirtschaft und Kapitalismus, Bd. 1, Teil 2, Berlin 1979, p.63
  5. ^ Betina Meißner, "Planting Seeds for Success," Wallstein Publishing House, Göttingen, 2007, pp. 90-91.
  6. ^ InvestingBusinessweek. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  7. ^ Betina Meißner, "Planting Seeds for Success," Wallstein Publishing House, Göttingen, 2007, pp. 90-91.
  8. ^ PotatoPro.26 March 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  9. ^ SeedquestSecuresites. 26 September 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  10. ^ Seedtoday. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  11. ^ KWS. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  12. ^ Gabi. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  13. ^ Fisa. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  14. ^ Isaaa. 22 January 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2011.


  • Betina Meißner, "Planting Seeds for Success," Wallstein Publishing House, Göttingen, 2007, pp. 90–91.
  • Detlef Diestel, "Sugar Refinery Klein Wanzleben from Foundation to 1917/18," in Landwirtschaft und Kapitalismus, Bd. 1, Teil 2, Berlin 1979, pp. 63–90.

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