Louis Dreyfus Group

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Louis Dreyfus Holding
Société par actions simplifiée
Industry Conglomerate
Founded 1851
Founder Léopold Louis-Dreyfus
Headquarters Paris, France
Area served
Key people
Margarita Louis-Dreyfus (Chairman)
Serge Schoen (CEO)
Products Energy trading, Raw materials, renewable and biomass energy, commodities
Revenue US$ 63.6 billion (2013)
US$ 640 million (2013)
Number of employees
22,000 (2013)
Website www.louisdreyfus.com

Louis Dreyfus Group is a French global conglomerate company that is involved in agriculture, oil, energy and commodities (global processing, trading and merchandising), as well as international shipping. It also owns and manages ocean vessels, develops and operates telecommunications infrastructures and is involved in real estate (development, management and ownership.[1]

The company Louis Dreyfus Holding BV has its headquarters in the World Trade Center Amsterdam in Amsterdam.[2]

Louis Dreyfus companies are present in more than 90 countries, with 72 offices. Major offices are located in Geneva, London, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Paris, São Paulo, Singapore, New York and Connecticut.[3]

Aggregate average annual gross sales in recent years have exceeded $120 billion. The company employs more than 22,000 people globally at peak season.


In 1851, the company was founded in the Alsace region of France, by Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, who developed a fortune whilst still a teenager through cross border cereal trading. He rapidly diversified across shipping, weapons manufacturing, agriculture, oil and banking, thus establishing one of the wealthiest dynasties in Europe.[4] His descendants still own the company to this day. By the early 20th century, the Louis-Dreyfus family was described as one of the "five great fortunes of France". However, as a Jewish family during the Second World War much of the family assets were confiscated by the Vichy government and some members of the family fled to America.[5]


By the 1900, the company had offices throughout Europe, North and South America, South Africa, India, Indo-China, China, Australia and Russia.

In 1905, Louis Dreyfuss established Banque Louis-Dreyfus to facilitate our company’s financial operations in grain markets.

In 1909, the company opened an office in Duluth, Minnesota, US and durum wheat exports began.

In 1913, the company's first office in Australia opened in Melbourne.

In 1914, the head office was moved to New York and Louis Dreyfuss became a member of the New York Produce Exchange. This enabled involvement in grain export and import transactions.

In 1915, the two sons of Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, Robert Louis Dreyfus(1867-1940) and Charles Louis Dreyfus(1870-1929), succeeded their father and expanded the business further into North America, South America and Russia.

In 1916, Louis Dreyfus participated in a number of programs initiated by the US Food Administration and shipped large quantities of grain under the Belgium Relief Program, an effort directed by Herbert Hoover's (later president of the USA) Commission for Relief in Belgium.[6]

In 1924, Louis Dreyfus began trading with and shipping grain in South Africa.

In 1925, Louis Dreyfus was well-established in Argentina with agents buying corn, wheat, barley and oats for export.

In 1938, the company began buying and exporting Canadian grains and oilseeds to worldwide customers.

In 1940, with the death of Léopold’s son, Louis, the founder’s three grandsons, Jean (1908-2001), François (1909-1958) and Pierre (1908-2011) assumed control of the company.

In 1942, Louis Dreyfus Group consolidated its presence in Brazil with the acquisition of Comércio e Industrias Brasileiras Coinbra SA.

In 1945, by the end of World War II, the main trading offices of the Louis Dreyfus Group were in New York City, Chicago, Winnipeg, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Saigon, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Bombay and Melbourne.[7]


In 1969, Gérard Louis-Dreyfus became Chairman of the company. He took trading activities in a different direction to capitalize on arbitrage opportunities in a variety of commodity markets. This included government bonds, rice, cotton and natural gas.

During 1970s and 1980s, the company extended their direct involvement in agricultural activities to cotton, sugar, citrus and coffee.

In the 1990s, citrus and oilseeds processing became part of the company's business.

In 1992, the General Lagos soybean crushing plant and port facility opened in Argentina. It quickly became one of the largest and most efficient plants in the world.

In 1998, the company built a network of 10 grain elevators across the Canadian prairies.


Between 2000 and 2005, the Group purchased sugar production operations in Brazil.[8]

In 2006, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, great grandson of the founder, created Louis Dreyfus Commodities and structured it as a matrix of Regions and Platforms (business lines). The company embarked on an asset-based strategy. Timbues, the company's soybean processing plant and port facility, opened in Argentina. Construction began on Claypool, a soybean processing plant, in Indiana, US. Louis Dreyfus Commodities began trading non-ferrous metals and raw materials.[9]

In 2008, the company's net sales doubled compared to 2006, reaching over US$35 billion. Louis Dreyfus set up operations in Dubai dedicated to serving the Middle East and Africa. In Asia, the company expanded with the acquisitions of an edible-oil refinery in India and a stake in an Indonesian palm oil plantation company. Investment was made in Brazilian sugarcane processing facilities and plantations.

In 2009, net sales reached US$34 billion and fixed assets were US$5.5 billion. The number of employees at peak season reached approximately 34,000 and the company had offices in more than 55 countries. A rapeseed crushing plant was acquired in Wittenberg, Germany, and Biosev was created through the merger of our sugarcane operations with those of Santelisa Vale in Brazil.

In 2010, the company entered into the apple juice concentrate market in China, and the acquisition of cotton assets and investment in logistics in Indonesia and Argentina. The company also became a signatory to the UN Global Compact.

In 2011, net sales approached US$60 billion and investments were aimed at US$7 billion. The company's Fertilizers Platform expanded massively with the acquisitions of Macrofertil and SCPA Sivex International and made major investments around crucial logistic bottlenecks, giving Louis Dreyfus access to ports in several key geographies and the ability to operate independently of choking points.[10]

In 2012, the company acquired Imperial Sugar, a US-listed company, which further expanded their industrial base, added a new consumer product to sugar offerings and reinforced their presence in North America. The company also expanded their Dairy portfolio with the acquisition of Ecoval, a leading international dairy trading company. The company's activities now include a full range of milk-related products.

In 2013, the company established new joint ventures in cotton (Australia), rice (South Africa) and grains (Ukraine). The issuance of a €400m and a €500m Eurobond were each listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. The company also unveiled a state of the art grain and oilseed export elevator at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US following construction, expansion and upgrades to the facility.

In 2014, the company purchased Kowalski Alimentos S.A., one of Brazil’s largest corn milling operators, and integrated it into the Group. The company purchased the shares of Ilomar Holdings N.V. Group, a leading commodities supply chain company based in Belgium and continued the development of the North American grains and oilseeds origination network with a number of investments in interior logistics along the Mississippi River. The Group is now twice as large as it was in 2009 (by net sales).[11]

Leopold Louis-Dreyfus's great-grandson, Gérard Louis-Dreyfus, was chairman of Louis Dreyfus Energy Services, a subsidiary of the group involved in crude-oil trading, gas investments and infrastructure. Gérard is also the father of American actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the Emmy-winning star of Seinfeld. Another branch of the dynasty, based in Paris, was headed by Robert Louis-Dreyfus (who was also the CEO of Adidas) until his death in 2009. It is currently overseen by his widow, Russian-born Margarita Bogdanova Louis-Dreyfus.[12] A third branch of the family's business is headed by Philippe Louis-Dreyfus (born 1945) and is concerned primarily with offshore industrial activities and freight shipping operations.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Groupe Louis Dreyfus S.A. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Groupe Louis Dreyfus S.A.". Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "Contacts." Louis Dreyfus Group. Retrieved on October 30, 2012. "WTC Amsterdam Tower H - Level 25 Zuidplein 208 1077 XV Amsterdam The Netherlands"
  3. ^ "Louis Dreyfus". Intern Here. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Saatchi & Saatchi: The Inside Story, By Alison Fendley, page 100, Arcade Publishing, 8 Oct 1996
  5. ^ The History of Foreign Investment in the United States, 1914-1945, Harvard University Press, 2004, By Mira Wilkins, page 479
  6. ^ "Our heritage". Louis Dreyfus Commodities. Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "Our heritage". Louis Dreyfus Commodities. Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Our heritage 1969-2005". Louis Dreyfus Commodities. Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "Our heritage 2006-2008". Louis Dreyfus Commodities. Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "Our heritage 2009-2011". Louis Dreyfus Commodities. Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "Our heritage 2012-2014". Louis Dreyfus Commodities. Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  12. ^ Bermant, Yoel. "Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, Head of Louis Dreyfus Holdings, Is Winning the Battle to Keep the Company in Family Hands". Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  13. ^ "Board of Advisors". London International Shipping Week. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 

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