ALTANA AG (in-house orthography: ALTANA) is a German chemical company headquartered in Wesel. It was created in 1977 through the spin-off of divisions of the Varta Group. The first CEO was Herbert Quandt.
The group comprises the divisions BYK (coating additives and instruments), Eckart (metal effect pigments and metallic printing inks), Elantas (insulation materials for the electrical and electronics industries) and Actega (coatings and sealant compounds for the packaging industry).
The ALTANA Group has 52 production facilities and 60 service and research laboratories worldwide. In 2018, the company, with about 6,400 employees, posted revenues of approximately €2.3 billion.
Altana’s roots go back to 1873, when Heinrich Byk founded the chemicals factory Dr. Heinrich Byk Chemische Fabrik in Oranienburg. The company grew, and in 1931 it was renamed BYK-Gulden Lomberg. In 1941 majority control of the company was acquired by AFA (Akkumulatoren-Fabrik AG) which was renamed VARTA in 1962. In 1977 VARTA was split into three companies, one of which was Altana.
On December 19, 2006 the majority of shareholders voted to approve the sale of the pharmaceuticals division to the Danish company Nycomed. Nycomed is owned by an investment consortium led by Nordic Capital and Credit Suisse. With the sale of the pharmaceuticals division, headquartered in Konstanz, Germany, Altana lost a major pillar of its business. At that time, 9,000 of the company’s 13,500 employees were working for Altana in the pharmaceuticals sector, generating two-thirds of the company’s total revenue. And indeed, the balance-sheet revenues fell by around 60 percent in 2006, but gained over six percent in 2007.
The patent for pantaprazole, the main revenue-generator for the former pharmaceuticals division, expired in 2009/2010. While the Altana Management Board justified the divestiture of the pharmaceutical business with delays in the approval of new products, increased research and development costs as well as strict regulatory requirements in the US and Europe, shareholder activists asserted that the Management Board had invested too little in the pharmaceutical business in the preceding years and had failed to develop successor products in time to compensate for the revenue losses to be expected due to the expiry of the pantaprazole patent at the end of the decade.
The pharmaceuticals division was sold for €4.6 billion. The entire proceeds from the sale were disbursed to the shareholders, who received a special dividend of €33 per share. Critics expressed discontent that the main shareholder benefited most from the sale of the pharmaceuticals division.
Until January 1, 2007, the company was organized into the pharmaceuticals division Altana Pharma AG, formerly Byk Gulden Lomberg Chemische Fabrik, headquartered in Konstanz, and the specialty chemicals division Altana Chemie AG based in Wesel. Since the sale of the pharmaceutical business to Nycomed, Altana has been operating exclusively in the specialty chemicals segment. This restructuring was accompanied by a change in the company logo, which was unified across all subsidiaries.
On November 6, 2008, main shareholder SKion GmbH (Germany, owned by Susanne Klatten) issued a public takeover offer of €13 per share for all outstanding shares, an action which drove up the stock price. A company spokesperson stated that the intention was to delist the company from public trading. To achieve this, SKion issued a second takeover offer of €14 per share to the remaining shareholders on November 9, 2009.
On December 30, 2008, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange announced that Altana would be removed from its MDAX index, as the increase in the share held by SKion had pushed the portion of stock held in free float to under ten percent. By June 2010, SKion held 95.04 percent of all shares.
In Germany, the stock was traded mainly on the Frankfurt and Stuttgart Exchanges and the Xetra platform; internationally, it was admitted to trading on the London Stock Exchange and the NASD Group, now FINRA, in the US.
After SKion acquired the entire Altana stock through a squeeze-out, trading in this stock was suspended effective August 27, 2010.
This specialty chemicals manufacturer offers a wide range of solutions and the corresponding special products for coating manufacturers, paint and plastics processors, the printing and cosmetic industries, and the electrical and electronics industry. The product range includes additives, special coatings and adhesives, effect pigments, metallic printing inks, sealants and compounds, impregnating resins and varnishes, and testing and measuring instruments.