ALTANA History

The roots of ALTANA AG reach back to the year 1873, when Dr. Heinrich Byk began producing chemicals.

ALTANA AG invests in High-Tech Gründerfonds IV
  • Investition in Start-ups als Innovationsmotor zunehmend wichtig
  • HTGF finanzierte seit 2005 schon mehr als 670 High-Tech-Start-ups
  • ALTANA bereits seit 2011 dabei
ALTANA records the first CO2-free production sites: ACTEGA in Brazil and ECKART in China.
  • First carbon-free production sites in Brazil and China

    On its way to carbon neutrality by 2025, the ALTANA Group now has its first carbon-free production sites: ACTEGA in Brazil and ECKART in China. Two other sites in Asia reduced their greenhouse gas emissions to less than 10 tons of CO2 equivalents by the end of 2021, roughly corresponding to the average carbon footprint of a person in Germany. The company also further improved its carbon footprint at its home site in Wesel. For example, BYK was able to increase the efficiency of its heat generation from 85 to 95 percent and reduce the associated greenhouse gas emissions by around 400 tons of CO2 equivalents per year.
ALTANA AG sells dp polar shareholding
  • German 3D printing system manufacturer dp polar to be acquired by 
    3D Systems Corporation
  • Specialty chemicals group ALTANA to further develop its revolutionary Cubic Ink® 3D printing material product families
ALTANA establishes sustainable long-term Group financing
  • For the first time interest rate also linked to the company performance in terms of climate neutrality and occupational safety
ACTEGA launches Signite technology
  • Can reduce waste in label production for consumer goods by over 50%
CubicInk materials revolutionize inkjet 3D
  • Outstanding precision: Industry-grade Cubic Ink® printing material families, including unprecedented heat resistance for manufacturer-independent use on 3D inkjet printers
  • Multi–material capability for maximum productivity: A wide variety of printing materials can be processed using the continuous Multi–material Jetting process
  • Three Cubic Ink® ink families: High Performance, Prototyping, and Support Materials
ALTANA acquires closure materials business from Henkel
  • Acquisition of technologies and customer relationships
  • Integration into ACTEGA division
  • In particular, expansion of PVC-free solutions
BYK starts up high-throughput screening plant in Wesel, Germany
  • A high-performance digital laboratory that is unique in the specialty chemicals industry 
  • World’s largest and most versatile Flexshuttle facility
  • BYK doubles capacity in application technology
ALTANA completes acquisition of TLS Technik GmbH & Co. Spezialpulver KG
  • Strategic expansion of ALTANA's ECKART division with innovative solutions for metal-based 3D printing
  • The takeover includes the production facility in Bitterfeld and some 40 employees
ALTANA expands its portfolio in industrial 3D printing
  • Acquisition of the British specialist Aluminium Materials Technologies Ltd. (AMT) for alloy development in 3D printing
ALTANA converts electricity procurement worldwide to renewable energy
  • Reduction of the CO2 footprint by around 50 percent
ACTEGA inaugurates new integrated site in Brazil
  • Administration, production and R&D on 12,000 square meters
  • Commissioning of ultra-modern 500 square meter laboratory

(-> The new integrated ACTEGA site in Araçariguama)

ALTANA completes acquisition of Schmid Rhyner AG
  • Strategic expansion of ALTANA’s ACTEGA division
  • Acquisition includes production, research, and development in Switzerland and a subsidiary in the U.S. with a total of around 80 employees

(-> The Schmidt Rhyner company headquarters in Adliswil)

ALTANA division ELANTAS bolsters India business
  • Acquisition of wire enamel business of Hubergroup India
ALTANA takes over the international business of Office Color Science Co., Ltd.
  • Includes all technology and products
  • Will be incorporated into the Instruments Business Line of ALTANA's BYK division
  • Strengthens position as technology leader in instrumentation solutions with refinish color matching and formulation software for automotive OEM
ALTANA acquires business from the Paul N. Gardner Company
  • Includes all technology, products, and the ongoing business of the company
  • Will be incorporated into the Instruments Business Line of the BYK Division of ALTANA
  • Strengthens position as technology leader in Physical Testing Instruments and expands business mainly in the Americas
World debut: BYK develops the first coupling agent for carbon fibers
  • World debut: BYK develops the first coupling agent for carbon fibers
  • Suited for all types of carbon fiber
  • Improves flexible and transverse tensile strength by up to 70 %
  • Liquid additive, easy to incorporate
ALTANA invests in Velox, an Industrial Digital Printing Company
  • ALTANA invests in Velox, an Industrial Digital Printing Company
  • Specialty chemicals group expanding its digital printing technology portfolio
  • Emphasis on new technology for high-speed digital “Direct-to-Shape” printing
  • Technology already deployed and multiple high-value strategic accounts secured
Landa Digital Printing opens next chapter in Company history
  • Landa Digital Printing opens next chapter in Company history
  • Successful completion of $300 million financing round provided by SKion and ALTANA
  • Using of the proceeds from the financing for expansion of the company’s infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities, as well as for ongoing R&D and market development
ALTANA acquires formulated resins business from Solvay
  • Acquisition includes a production and research facility of Solvay in New York state
  • Incorporated into the ELANTAS Electrical Insulation division
  • Strengthens position as technology leader in electrical insulation and expands business in North America

(-> ELANTAS division)

ALTANA 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 ACTEGA)

ALTANA acquires Landa metallography technology
  • ALTANA acquires a novel metallography technology from the Israeli Landa Group
  • This technology enables metallic effects on print products and cuts 50% of the costs of conventional processes such as foil transfer
  • Landa will progressively transfer the remaining development and engineering work to ALTANA’s ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants division, which will advance the metallography technology to market maturity in the coming years

(-> Division BYK)


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

ALTANA expands its additives business by acquiring the Dutch Company Addcomp
  • Strategic expansion of ALTANA’s BYK Additives & Instruments division in the plastics additives segment
  • Takeover of two manufacturing facilities in the Netherlands and the USA with 45 employees
ACTEGA Rhenania celebrates company centenary

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

ALTANA contributes a quarter of a million euros to support charity refugee work

In 2015, ALTANA donates 250,000 Euros to finance a German course developed 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 on July 1, 2015.

Stefan Genten becomes the new Chief Financial Officer of ALTANA AG on August 1, 2015.

The ALTANA Group significantly increases its presence in China

ACTEGA opens a new research building for coatings and sealants in Foshan.

ELANTAS increases its capacity at the world’s largest production plant for wire enamels in Tongling.

BYK plans new plant for chemical additives in Shanghai.

(-> Today ACTEGA, ELANTAS, and BYK divisions)

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

Expansion of the Wallingford plant underlines the company’s commitment to the local customer base and growth in North America.

Largest single investment made by ALTANA outside of Germany to date.

Expansion heightens worldwide supply chain security for additives.

(-> Today BYK division)

ALTANA acquires polypropylene wax emulsion business from DSM

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

(-> Today BYK division)

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

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


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

Acquisition of Rockwood’s rheology business

Acquisition of Rockwood’s rheology business, the second-biggest acquisition in the company’s history, with four new manufacturing sites in Germany, England, and the U.S. joining the ALTANA Group.

(-> Today BYK division)

ACTEGA acquires specialty coating business

ACTEGA acquires Henkel’s specialty coating business and Valspar’s overprint varnish business.

(-> Today ACTEGA division)

BYK Celebrates

May 24 marks the 50th anniversary of the BYK site in Wesel.

Official opening of the new laboratory building, which was awarded the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certificate for its efficient use of energy.

Acquisition of the wax additives manufacturer ChemChor

Acquisition of the U.S.-based wax additives manufacturer ChemChor.

(-> BYK division)

Acquisition of the casting resin business of the Italian company Marbo

The casting resin business of the Italian company Marbo is acquired. The products can be used for encapsulating or coating electronic components with insulating materials.

(-> ELANTAS division)

The ALTANA Group upgrades

ALTANA acquires the polymer modifier manufacturer Kometra based in Saxony-Anhalt.

(-> Today BYK division)

The acquisition of the sealants business of Watson Standard Adhesives Company further enhances ALTANA’s market position in the U.S.

(-> Today ACTEGA division)

The printing ink manufacturer Color Chemie is acquired in May.

(-> Today ACTEGA division)

ALTANA acquires Metalure pigments production from Avery Dennison in the U.S.

(-> Today ECKART division)

ACTEGA acquires Aquaprint

Aquaprint, a company based near Bremen and specializing in the manufacture of water-borne overprint varnishes, is acquired.

(-> ACTEGA division)

ALTANA becomes a private company

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

ALTANA acquires additives business

ALTANA acquires Dystar’s additives business.

(-> BYK division)

ALTANA acquires Water Ink Technologies

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

(-> ELANTAS division)

Quadrant Chemical Corporation is acquired

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.

(-> ELANTAS division)

BYK acquires former ELANTAS in Kempen

BYK acquires former ELANTAS manufacturing site in Kempen.

ELANTAS and BYK open new manufacturing plants

ELANTAS and BYK open new manufacturing plants in Tongling, China.

ALTANA acquires the pigment business

ALTANA acquires the pigment business of US Bronze Powders, New Jersey.

(-> ECKART division)

ALTANA acquires Dutch manufacturer of wax additives

At the end of 2008, ALTANA acquires Dick Peters B.V., a Dutch wax additives manufacturer.

(-> BYK division)

BYK opens new labs in Southeast Asia

Expansion of technical on-site support: BYK opens new labs in Southeast Asia (Langfang & Singapore).

BYK acquires Bergen Materials

BYK acquires Bergen Materials Corp., USA, to expand its additives business.

ECKART acquires effect pigments business of Wolstenholme Group

ECKART acquires effect pigments business of Wolstenholme Group Ltd., UK. The business comprises bronze and aluminum pigments.

New Group profile as of January 2007

After the divestment of its pharmaceuticals activities ALTANA focuses on its specialty chemicals business. The ALTANA Group is now composed of the Bad Homburg-based strategic management holding company, ALTANA AG, and the operating division, ALTANA Chemie AG.

After the Annual General Meeting of May 2007, ALTANA AG defines itself as a pure specialty chemicals company with four business divisions:

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

Strategic and geographic expansion of Electrical Insulation division in the Mercosur trade bloc

ALTANA acquires the electrical insulation production of INVEX in Brazil and founds ALTANA Isolantes Elétricos do Brasil Ltda., based in Cerquilho

(-> ELANTAS division)

After the the former Schenctady business is completely integrated into the plant over a period of 12 months, AIE do Brasil becomes a prominent manufacturer of electrical insulation resins in South America.

Thanks to the acquisition ALTANA has a starting point for further expansion, including the expansion of other divisions, in South America.

Acquisition of Kelstar International

Acquisition of Kelstar International (Cinnaminson, NJ, USA) in October 2005.
Kelstar International is a leading U.S. manufacturer of water-based and UV-curable overprint coatings for the paper and board packaging sector in North America.

(-> ACTEGA division)

Acquisition of Rad-Cure

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

(-> ACTEGA division)

The ECKART group becomes ALTANA Chemie’s fourth division, called Effect Pigments

ECKART is the world’s leading manufacturer of metallic and pearlescent pigments for the paint and coatings industry, the graphic arts industry, the plastic industry, the lightweight concrete industry, and the cosmetics sector. Its product range encompasses a wide range of metallic effect pigments as well as press-ready metallic printing inks. Thus, ECKART offers its customers a comprehensive spectrum of effect pigments to meet all requirements.

ECKART attaches special importance to personal service and qualified application-technology advising. The company’s global presence enables it to identify customer requirements at an early stage in order to react quickly and flexibly. Intensive research and development activities spawn special products, innovative solutions, and constant improvements in a many different fields.

BYK-Chemie markets the first nanoadditives

BYK-Chemie markets the first nanoadditives for scratchproof coatings, NANOBYK-3600 and 3601.

ALTANA Electrical Insulation manufacturing plant opens in Zhuhai

ALTANA Electrical Insulation Zhuhai, a manufacturing plant for wire enamels and impregnating resins, opens in Zhuhai. It is ALTANA’s fourth production facility in China.

(-> Today ELANTAS division)

Acquisition of Schenectady’s entire electrical insulation business

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

ALTANA Coatings & Sealants becomes first division to use nanotechnology

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

Epoxylite acquired and integrated into Sterling

Sterling, a wire enamel manufacturer based in Manchester, England, can look back on over a century of tradition. In 2004, Epoxylite, Manchester, also acquired in 2002, is integrated into Sterling.

(-> Today ELANTAS division)

ALTANA Chemie’s business activities are organized into divisions (as of May 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 (acquired in 2005)

Acquisition of Terra Lacke

Terra Lacke (Lehrte, Germany), which has specialized in overprint varnishes since 1948, is acquired.

(-> Today ACTEGA division)

Acquisition of Camattini

Acquisition of Camattini (Collechio near Parma, Italy). Camattini, founded in 1962, manufactures compounds for the electrical and electronics industry and casting resins for tools.

(-> Today ELANTAS division)

Acquisition of Tongling Siva Insulating Materials

Acquisition of Tongling Siva Insulating Materials (Tongling, China). Founded in 1995, the company manufactures wire enamels.

(-> heute Geschäftsbereich ELANTAS)

Founding of Shunde-Rhenacoat

Founding of Shunde-Rhenacoat (Shunde, China). The company manufactures special coatings for packaging.

(-> Today ACTEGA division)

High-performance enamels made by ALTANA conquer Mars

During the Mars Pathfinder mission, the small Sojourner rover operates using wire enamel coatings from ELANTAS.

Acquisition of P.D. George Company

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 U.S.

(-> Today ELANTAS division)

Acquisition of La Artistica

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

(-> Today ACTEGA division)

Founding of BYK-Chemie Asia-Pacific

BYK-Chemie Asia-Pacific with its headquarters in Singapore. It also has sales offices and laboratories in China, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

(-> Today BYK division)

Acquisition of DS-Chemie

DS-Chemie (Bremen, Germany), founded in 1920 and specializing in the manufacture of sealing compounds for closures, is acquired.

(-> Today ACTEGA division)

Acquisition of Rhenacoat, manufacturer of packaging coatings

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

(-> Today ACTEGA division)

Acquisition of Deatech

Deatech (Ascoli Piceno, Italy) is acquired. With the addition of the company, founded in 1989, ALTANA’s wire-enamels business is expanded.

(-> Today ELANTAS division)

Acquisition of Dutch company CERA Chemie B.V.

BYK-Chemie acquires the Dutch company CERA Chemie B.V., based in Deventer. The firm, renamend in BYK-Cera, was founded in 1972 and develops and manufactures wax additives.

(-> Today BYK division)

Acquisition of Gardner Lab., USA, now trading as BYK-Gardner, USA

Acquisition of Gardner Lab., U.S., now trading as BYK-Gardner, USA. (Columbia, MD). Since 1924, the company has developed and manufactured measuring instruments in the USA.

(-> Today BYK division)

Foundation for the development of a worldwide wire-enamel business

The acquisition of Dr. Wiedeking (Kempen, Germany) lays the foundation for the development of a global wire-enamel business.

The company was founded in 1947 and is now one of the key suppliers of wire enamels in Europe. In 2005, Wiedeking merged with Beck Electrical Insulation.

(-> Today ELANTAS division; today Kempen is home to BYK’s manufacturing facilities)

Founding of BYK-Chemie Korea

Founding of BYK-Chemie Korea, headquartered in Seoul.

(-> Today BYK division)

Founding of the chemicals division of ALTANA AG

The chemicals division of ALTANA AG is founded. Headquartered in Wesel (ALTANA Chemie), it is comprised of the following companies:

U.S. – France – Japan – U.S. (additives)
BYK-Labotron GmbH (measuring instruments)
Rhenania GmbH (coatings).

Founding of BYK-Gardner

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 manufactures precision instruments for measuring gloss and coating thickness.

Founding of BYK-Chemie

BYK-Mallinckrodt GmbH is dissolved. BYK-Chemie GmbH, Wesel, is founded, specializing in additives.

Founding of BYK-Chemie Japan

BYK-Chemie Japan is founded in Osaka. Initially, it sells additives in all of East and Southeast Asia. Today. it concentrates on the Japanese market.

Spin-off of Varta AG

The spin-off of Varta AG results in the formation of three separate companies. One of these is the present ALTANA AG, today based in Wesel, formerly headquartered in Bad Homburg.

Founding of BYK-Mallinckrodt Chemische Produkte GmbH

BYK-Gulden sells 50% of its additives business to Mallinckrodt Inc., USA, and establishes BYK-Mallinckrodt Chemische Produkte GmbH, Wesel. Manufactures additives and radiopharmaceuticals.

Acquisition of Rhenania GmbH

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

(-> Today ACTEGA division)

Founding of BYK-Chemie USA

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

AFA renamed Varta

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

BYK-Gulden founds Zweigwerk Wesel

BYK-Gulden establishes facilitiees Wesel, today the site of the headquarters of ALTANA AG and three of its divisions – BYK; ELANTAS, and ACTEGA – and the largest manufacturing and research site for BYK additives worldwide.

Acquisition by Dr. Herbert Quandt and Harald Quandt

After the death of their father, Dr. Herbert Quandt and his brother Harald acquire Günther Quandt’s stake in a complex of 17 companies, including Varta, then called AFA, and BYK-Gulden.

Name changed to BYK-Gulden

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

Dr. Günther Quandt

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

Sale of Anti-Terra dispersing agent

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.

Name changed to BYK-Gulden Lomberg

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

Begin of cold asphalt manufacture

BYK-Guldenwerke begins manufacturing cold asphalt for road construction (legally protected as Bykumen).

Merger into BYK-Guldenweke Chemische Fabrik AG

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


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

(-> Today BYK division)