Ameropa continues a long tradition of agricultural trading and investment established by Paul Zivy (1690-1762), his son Joseph the older (1724-1798) and his grandson Joseph the younger (1769-1859), who successfully traded grain, cattle and other goods out of Müllheim near Basel. They built up a business which crossed regional boundaries and extended all the way to the port of Rotterdam. Furthermore, they attempted to diversify themselves with their bid for the copper industry in the county of Baden-Durlach, located between Basel and Karlsruhe.
The trading activities continued throughout the 19th century, but were increasingly superseded by real estate investments. In 1840, Joseph Zivy was among the investors from Basel and Southern Germany who bought the large bankrupt ‘Zastler Estate’, a farming and forestry business near Basel. His grandson, Henri Zivy, moved to Basel in 1872.
Henri’s son Arthur started his career working in the family company H. Zivy & Sons. After the First World War he founded his own company, Miniera AG, which became the largest importer of coal into Switzerland and had branches in Bern, Zurich, Vienna, and Kattowicze. The president of the board of Miniera was Hermann Obrecht (1882-1940) who became a member of the Swiss federal government in 1935. Miniera was the first company to import coal from the USA. Arthur sold the company in 1940.
Prochaska & Cie., with Baron von Haymerle as Chairman, made inroads into the domestic grain market, going from importer to wholesaler to retailer and investing in a chain of grain elevators throughout the country. Fertilizers, seeds, and crop protection chemicals soon completed its program. Meanwhile, Ameropa AG had obtained the European agency for wheat and corn sales from ACA, Asociacion de Cooperativas Argentinas.
As one of the first companies, Ameropa started buying Brazilian soybeans as of 1959. While Western Europe achieved self-sufficiency in grains by 1970, Eastern Europe increased its grain imports and began to export fertilizers. Prochaska continued its expansion and diversification and started activities such as agricultural machinery, grain and milk laboratory equipment, and famous mineral water market leader ROEMERQUELLE.
The international trading activities were somewhat curtailed in the 1970s in favor of rebuilding a second Prochaska in France. COFRACE, SIAM, TAF, Moulins St. Gabriel and other subsidiaries were forerunners of what became AgriNégoce S.A., our French retailing group for grains, fertilizers, seeds, and plant protection chemicals which ran 26 grain elevators and storages, offering a complete range of services to 10’000 farmers. Due to the increasingly domestic activities of AgriNégoce with no link to our international trading activities, AgriNégoce was sold in 2016.
This decade saw the re-emergence of our fertilizer trading activities, with large shipments of urea to China and the Philippines, and the development of the Brazilian potash market. At the end of the decade, fertilizer volumes had overtaken grain volumes. Deep structural changes concluded this decade: the foreseeable accession of Austria to the European Union, the fall of the iron curtain, and the foreboding of globalization.
While Ameropa had previously been present only in Switzerland, Austria, and France, a global network begun, starting in Eastern Europe. In short succession, offices were opened in Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Russia, Belarus, China, and Brazil. In 1991, a joint venture for fertilizer trading was founded with Soyuzagrochimpexport. Andreas Zivy, son of Felix Zivy, joined Ameropa in 1980 and was appointed CEO of Ameropa in 1995. In 1997, Ameropa acted as a business angel, founding the chemical trading company Kolmar, which was sold to Kolmar’s management later on.
Ameropa began this decade by expanding its food & feed portfolio with the initiation of a feedstuffs trading desk in Singapore. In line with its history in Austria and France, Ameropa also pursued a policy of asset based trading which led it to build or acquire, alone or with partners, grain elevators, port terminals, mills, fertilizer factories, and fertilizer distribution centers in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Kosovo, Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, China, Australia, and Columbia. Our largest acquisition to date was concluded on March 21st, 2012, bringing Romanian nitrogen fertilizer factory Azomures and Constanta port terminal Chimpex into the group, thereby doubling the number of employees globally. Over the course of the decade, through a combination of organic growth and further acquisitions in Romania, this gave rise to the Danube business cluster that operates today.