Our History

The roots of ALTANA AG go back to the year 1873, when Dr. Heinrich Byk began producing chemicals. In 1941 Dr. Günther Quandt acquired the majority of shares in the subsequent. BYK-Chemie. From 1977 the company became part of the newly formed ALTANA AG.

Today ALTANA Group is organized in four divisions:

  • BYK Additives & Instruments,
  • ECKART Effect Pigments,
  • ELANTAS Electrical Insulation and
  • ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants

and is globally represented in the area of specialty chemicals with around 48 production sites.


Dr. Heinrich Byk founds the chemicals factory Dr. Heinrich Byk Chemische Fabrik in the Berlin district of Oranienburg (entered in the commercial register under No. 7595) and begins producing industrial and commercial chemicals.


Dr. Heinrich Byk Chemische Fabrik and Leipziger Farbwerke Paul Gulden & Co. (founded 1896) merge to form BYK-Guldenwerke Chemische Fabrik AG.


BYK-Guldenwerke starts production of cold asphalt for road construction (registered as Bykumen).


Following the acquisition of Ernst Lomberg–Photochemische Produkte (formed 1882), the company is renamed BYK-Gulden Lomberg.


The dispersing agent Anti-Terra is sold for the first time. Over the years Anti-Terra is steadily developed to become a world-famous product of our paint additives group.


Dr. Günther Quandt,
Chairman of the Board of Management of AFA (Akkumulatoren-Fabrik AG, later VARTA AG) acquires the majority of shares in BYK-Gulden Lomberg and becomes Chairman of the Supervisory Board.


90 percent of the production and office premises in Berlin are completely destroyed. For safety reasons, during the war, valuable documents and formulations are stored in a safe of the Deutsche Bank in Constance. At the end of the war, the company relocates to Constance and changes its name to BYK-Gulden.


Upon the death of Günther Quandt, his son Dr. Herbert Quandt together with his brother Harald built up the conglomerate to an overall complex of 17 companies, included Varta (formerly called AFA) and BYK-Gulden.




AFA is renamed into Varta (German acronym for marketing, charging, repair of transportable batteries)

BYK-Gulden breaks ground for the Wesel facilities, today the headquarters of ALTANA and three of its four business units as well as the biggest production and research site for BYK additives worldwide.


BYK-Chemie USA is founded to develop the additive business in the American market. In 1981 the company relocates to Wallingford.

(-> today Division BYK)


BYK-Gulden merges its additives business with the radiopharmaceuticals
business of Mallinckrodt Inc., USA to form BYK-Mallinckrodt Chemische
Produkte GmbH, Wesel.

BBusch Jäger (predecessor to ALTANA AG and subsidiary of Varta AG) buys
Rhenania GmbH, Grevenbroich. The company, founded in 1915, specializes
in the manufacture of can and foil coatings.

(-> today division ACTEGA)


The split of Varta AG results in the formation of three separate companies. One of these is the present ALTANA AG, based in Wesel, formerly Bad Homburg.




BYK-Chemie Japan is founded in Osaka, initially marketing additives in the whole of East and Southeast Asia, today concentrating on the Japanese market.

(-> today division BYK)  


BYK-Mallinckrodt GmbH is dissolved.BYK-Chemie GmbH, Wesel is formed as a 100% subsidiary of ALTANA AG, specializing in the additives business.




BYK-Chemie acquires a 48% stake in and, from 1986, complete ownership of Labotron AG, Geretsried, renamed BYK-Gardner in 1989. The company, founded in 1962, develops and produces precision instruments for the characterization of appearance, gloss or color.

(-> today division BYK)  


ALTANA Chemie, the Chemicals Division of ALTANA AG is created, with its head quarters at the Wesel site. It comprises the following entities:

BYK-Chemie: USA – France – Japan – USA (Additive)
BYK-Labotron GmbH (Messinstrumente)
Rhenania GmbH (Lacke).


BYK-Chemie Korea is founded with its head quarter in Seoul.

(-> today division BYK)


Acquisition of the Gardner Lab., US, now trading asBYK-Gardner, USA (Columbia, MD). Since 1924, the company has developed and produced instruments in the USA.

(-> today division BYK)

The acquisition of Dr. Wiedeking (Kempen, Germany) lays the foundation for the growth of a global wire enamel business. The company was founded in 1947 and is now among the key suppliers of wire enamels in Europe. In 2005 Wiedeking merged with Beck Electrical Insulation.

(-> today division ELANTAS, Kempen is today a production facility of BYK)


BYK-Chemie acquires the Dutch firm of CERA Chemie B.V. based at Deventer. The company, renamed BYK-Cera, was formed in 1972 and develops / produces wax additives.

(-> today division BYK)  


The acquisition of Deatech (Ascoli Piceno, Italy), founded in 1989, accelerates the expansion of the wire enamel business.

(-> today division ELANTAS Electrical Insulation)  


Rhenacoat France is acquired, a manufacturer of packaging coatings (can coatings) based at Sedan, France.

(-> today division ACTEGA)


DS-Chemie (Bremen, Germany) is acquired, since 1920 a specialist in the production of sealing compounds for closures.

(-> today division ACTEGA)



Purchase of the P.D. George Company (St. Louis, Mo, USA). Since 1919 the family business has manufactured wire enamels, compounds and varnishes in the USA.

(-> today division ELANTAS)

Acquisition of La Artistica. The company, founded in 1906 near Vigo, Spain, produces sealing compounds for tin cans.

(-> today division ACTEGA)

Formation of BYK-Chemie Asia-Pacificat Singapore. Other sales offices and laboratories are located in China, Malaysia and Taiwan.

(-> today division BYK)  


Formation of Shunde-Rhenacoat(Shunde, China). The company produces special packaging coatings.

(-> today division ACTEGA)

High-performance wire enamels of ALTANA Chemie conquer Mars. During the Mars Pathfinder mission, the small Sojourner mobile operates using wire enamel coatings supplied by Wiedeking.




Acquisition of Camattini(Collechio near Parma, Italy). Camattini was formed in 1962 and produces compounds for the electrical industry and casting resins for tools.

(-> today division ELANTAS)

Acquisition of Tongling Siva Insulating Materials(Tongling, China). Since 1995 the company has produced wire enamels.

(-> today division ELANTAS)  


Terra Lacke(Lehrte, Germany), a specialist since 1948 in overprint varnishes, is acquired.

(-> today division ELANTAS)


The business activities of ALTANA Chemie are organized into divisions (Status 05/2006):

Additives & Instruments:
BYK-Chemie Wesel, BYK-Chemie USA, BYK-Gardner, BYK-Cera, BYK-Chemie Japan, BYK-Chemie Korea, BYK-Chemie Asia Pacific, BYK-Chemie Tongling.

Coatings & Sealants:
DS-Chemie, Rhenania, Kelstar International, Rad-Cure,Terra Lacke, Shunde Rhenacoat, La Artistica

Electrical Insulation:
P.D. George, Deatech, Beck Electrical Insulation, Tongling SIVA, Beck India, Camattini, Sterling, ALTANA Electrical Insulation Zhuhai, ALTANA Isolantes Eléctricos do Brasil

Effect Pigments:
ECKART Deutschland, ECKART America, ECKART Asia, ECKART Benelux, ECKART Switzerland, ECKART France, ECKART Finland, ECKART Italia, ECKART UK (2005 akquiriert)


Sterling, wire enamel manufacturer based at Manchester, England, looks back on over a century of tradition and becomes part of the business unit ALTANA Electrical Insulation. As of 2004 Epoxylite (formed in 1954), Manchester, also acquired in 2002, is integrated into Sterling.

(-> today division ELANTAS)  


Acquisition of the entire electrical insulation business of Schenectady. Beck Electrical Insulation (Hamburg, Germany), manufacturer of impregnating varnishes since 1904, and Beck India (Pune, India), founded in 1956, become members of the ALTANA Chemie family.

(-> today division ELANTAS)

ALTANA Coatings & Sealants is the first business unit to use nanotechnology to effectively slow down gas diffusion from plastic containers (barrier coating).


BYK-Chemie launches the first nano-additives on the market, NANOBYK-3600 and 3601 for scratchproof coatings.

ALTANA Electrical Insulation Zhuhai is founded and started up as production site for wire enamels and impregnating resins. It is ALTANA Chemie’s fourth production site in China.

(-> today division ELANTAS)


The ECKART-Gruppe becomes fourth division "Effect Pigments" of ALTANA.

ECKART ( founded in 1876 ) is a leading international manufacturer of metallic pigments for the paints and coatings industry, the graphic arts industry, the plastics, lightweight concrete industries and the cosmetics industry. The product range today encompasses all kinds of metallic effect pigments and even press-ready metallic printing inks. Pearlescent pigments round off the range.

Global presence enables ECKART to identify customer requirements at an early stage and to react quickly and flexibly. Intensive research and development activities create special products, innovative solutions and constant improvements in a wide variety of fields.


Acquisition of Kelstar International(Cinnaminson, NJ, USA) in October 2005.
Kelstar International is a leading US producer of water based and UV curable overprint coatings for the paper and board packaging sector.

(-> division ACTEGA)

In February 2006, Rad-Cure (Fairfield, NJ, USA) is acquired.
Rad-Cure is a specialist in the field of overprint UV curable coatings and adhesives for the paper and board packaging sector.

(-> division ACTEGA)  


Strategic and geographic expansion of division Electrical Insulation in the Mercosur Area

ALTANA acquires electrical insulation production of INVEX in Brasil and founded ALTANA Isolantes Elétricos do Brasil Ltda., located in Cerquilho.

(-> Division ELANTAS)

After the total integration of the former Schenctady business into the plant within the coming 12 months, AIE do Brasil will be a prominent manufacturer of electrical insulation resins in South America.

(-> Division ELANTAS)

This foothold facility could provide a base for the expansion or entry of other divisions in the interesting South American market.




New Group Profile Since January 2007
After the divestment of the pharmaceuticals activities ALTANA focuses on its specialty chemicals business. The ALTANA Group now is composed of the Bad Homburg-based strategic management holding company, ALTANA AG.




  • Development of technical on-site support: BYK opens new labs in Southeast-Asia (Langfang & Singapore)
  • BYK acquires Bergen Materials Corp., USA to expand the additives business
  • ECKART acquires effect pigments business from Wolstenholme Group Ltd., UK. The acquired business comprises bronze and aluminum pigments.


  • BYK acquires former ELANTAS production site in Kempen
  • ELANTAS and BYK open new production plants in Tongling, China
  • ALTANA acquires the pigment business of US Bronze Powders, New Jersey

    (-> Division ECKART)

  • ALTANA closes the acquisition of the Dutch manufacturer of wax additives, Dick Peters B.V., at the end of 2008

    (-> Division BYK)


  • ALTANA acquires the additives business of DyStar

    (-> Division BYK)

  • Water Ink Technologies is acquired by ALTANA. The company produces printing inks, overprint varnishes and dispersions in North Carolina

    (-> Division ACTEGA)

  • The Texas-based Quadrant Chemical Corporation is acquired. The company chiefly manufactures epoxides and urethanes for applications in the automotive and transportation markets. The Indian company Shimo, which is mainly active in the electrical engineering sector, is also acquired

    (-> Division ELANTAS)


  • The firm of Aquaprint, based near Bremen and specializing in the manufacture of water-borne overprint varnishes, is acquired

    (-> Division ACTEGA)

  • The AGM of ALTANA AG resolves on June 30, 2010 to transfer the remaining shares to the company’s main shareholder SKion GmbH in return for a cash compensation. ALTANA thus becomes a private company after 33 years of being listed on the stock market


  • ALTANA acquires the polymer modifier producer Kometra based in Saxony-Anhalt  

    (-> Division BYK)

  • Acquisition of the sealants business of Watson Standard Adhesives Company further enhances market position in the USA

    (-> Division ACTEGA)

  • The printing ink manufacturer Color Chemie is acquired in May 

    (-> Division ACTEGA)

  • ALTANA acquires the production of Metalure pigments from Avery Dennison in the USA

    (-> Division ECKART)


  • 50th anniversary of the BYK site in Wesel on May 24
  • Official opening of the new laboratory building, which has been for its efficient use of energy with the LEED certificate (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) 

  • Acquisition of the U.S.-based wax additive manufacturer ChemChor 

  • (-> Division BYK)

  • Acquisition of the casting resin business of the Italian Marbo Group. The products can be used for encapsulating or coating electronic components with insulation materials

    (-> Division ELANTAS)


  • Acquisition of the rheology business of Rockwood, the second biggest in the company’s history, with four new production sites in Germany, England and the USA joining the ALTANA Group

    (-> Division BYK)

  • ACTEGA acquires the specialty coating business from Henkel and the overprint varnish business from  Valspar

    (-> Division ACTEGA)


ALTANA Group significantly expands presence in China 

  • ACTEGA opens a new research facility for coatings and sealants in Foshan
  • ELANTAS increases capacity at the world’s largest production plant for wire enamels in Tongling
  • BYK plans new plant for chemical additives in Shanghai

  • (-> Division ACTEGA, ELANTAS und BYK)

Production capacity for BYK Additives more than doubled in the U.S.

  • Expansion of the Wallingford facility underlines the commitment to local customer base and growth in North America
  • Largest single investment made by ALTANA outside of Germany to date
  • Expansion increases worldwide supply chain security for additives

  • (-> Division BYK)

ALTANA acquires polypropylene wax emulsion business from DSM

The specialty chemicals group ALTANA has acquired technologies and customer-specific know-how in the field of polypropylene wax emulsions from Dutch-based Royal DSM. The products can be used to coat glass fibers required for the manufacture of composites. Typical application fields include the construction and automotive industries.

(-> Division BYK)

Long-term strategic partnership: ALTANA invests €100 million in Landa Digital Printing

The specialty chemicals company regards Landa NanographyTM as “game-changing” for the printing industry


Image, bottom right: The Nanographic Printing™ process involves billions of Landa NanoInk™ droplets being applied to a heated transfer blanket to form a 500nm thick image. The image dries instantly and can be laminated onto paper or plastic without penetrating it. Its use of fewer materials compared to other printing processes means that costs are significantly reduced.

ALTANA enlarges Management Board

  • Enlargement of the Management Board from two to three members

  • Reorganization caters to accelerated growth of the ALTANA Group

ALTANA expands its business in Brazil through acquisitions

  • ACTEGA acquires two companies in the overprint varnish and printing ink industry in São Paulo state
  • Takeover of three production facilities and 210 employees
  • Consolidation of businesses in the new ACTEGA do Brasil


ACTEGA Rhenania celebrates company centenary

ACTEGA Rhenania celebrated its centenary with a special ceremony for staff and business customers at the Böhler Areal event venue in Meerbusch.

ALTANA supports charity refugee work with a quarter of a million euros

ALTANA donates 250,000 Euros to finance a German course designed by charity Malteser Werke specifically for refugees.

ALTANA positions itself for the future

  • Dr. Stephan Glander is appointed Managing Director of BYK-Chemie GmbH and President of BYK Additives & Instruments as of July 1, 2015
  • Stefan Genten becomes the new Chief Financial Officer of ALTANA AG as of August 1, 2015.



As of January 1, 2016, ALTANA Management Board member Martin Babilas succeeds Dr. Matthias L. Wolfgruber as Chief Executive Officer of ALTANA AG.

ALTANA Expands its Additive Business through Acquisition of Dutch Company Addcomp

  • Strategic extension of ALTANA’s BYK division in the area of polymer additive solution
  • Takeover of two production facilities in the Netherlands and the U.S. with 45 employees

    (-> Division BYK)


ALTANA Acquires Formulated Resins Business from Solvay

  • Acquisition includes a production and research facility of Solvay in New York state
  • Will be incorporated into the ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division
  • Strengthens position as technology leader in electrical insulation and expands business in North America

(-> Division ELANTAS)

ALTANA Further Expands Additives Business by Acquiring PolyAd Services 

  • Strategic strengthening of ALTANA’s BYK Additives & Instruments division in the plastics additives segment
  • Acquisition of two operating companies in the USA and Germany and a development and manufacturing site in the USA

(-> Division BYK)

ALTANA Acquires Landa Metallography Technology

  • ALTANA has acquired Landa's Metallography technology
  • This novel technology for producing metallized graphics is a sustainable alternative to foil-transfer processes, enabling metallization graphics at up to half the cost of conventional foil stamping.
  • Landa will progressively transfer the remaining development and engineering work to ALTANA’s ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division, who will be bringing the Metallography technology to market in the coming years.

(-> Division ACTEGA)