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History

The Messer brand name stands for a constant presence in the markets for industrial gases and cutting and welding technology stretching back since 1889. The Messer Group (Messer) and the Messer Eutectic Castolin Group (MEC) operate under the “Part of the Messer World” umbrella brand, signifying that they are part of the “Messer World” group of companies. 73 per cent of shares in Messer and MEC are owned by Stefan Messer and other family members, while the remaining 27 per cent are held by the Adolf Messer Foundation. The foundation, which promotes science and research, was established in 1978 in memory of Adolf Messer, who founded the Messer company in Frankfurt/Main in 1898.

Adolf Messer initially focused on the manufacture and sale of acetylene gas generators, among other things; he subsequently moved into the field of oxyfuel cutting and welding. In the 1940s, he exported his first production unit for air gases to a foreign customer. In 1953, Adolf Messer handed over the management of the company to his son Hans. As growth reached its limits in the early 1960s, Adolf Messer GmbH merged with parts of Knapsack Griesheim AG, which was then a subsidiary of Hoechst, the Frankfurt-based chemical and pharmaceutical company. Hoechst had a two-thirds stake and the Messer family a one-third stake in the joint venture, Messer Griesheim. Under the leadership of Hans Messer, the company rapidly developed into an international supplier of industrial gases, cryogenic systems and cutting and welding products.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Hans Messer retired from active management and joined the Supervisory Board. A strategy of globalisation failed because of the massive investment costs involved, resulting in excessive debts. In 1999, Stefan Messer bought back the cutting and welding division for the family in the shape of Messer Cutting & Welding GmbH. One year later, with the help of a financial investor, Messer Cutting & Welding GmbH bought the Swiss company Castolin Eutectic and merged the two companies to form the MEC Group. The Messer family held a 36 per cent stake in this enterprise. In 2001, Hoechst, subsequently Aventis, sold its two-thirds majority stake in the Messer Griesheim Group to financial investors who, together with the Messer family, streamlined and restructured the business. In May 2004, the family acquired all the shares held by the financial investors and split from its three largest subsidiaries in Germany, Great Britain and the USA for financing reasons.
Since then, the industrial gases division has once again been trading under the Messer family name as Messer Group GmbH. The Swiss company ASCO Kohlensäure AG, a supplier of individual and complete CO2 solutions, has been a subsidiary of the Messer Group since 2007. In the middle of 2008, a majority stake was acquired in ASCO in New Zealand, followed in February 2009 by the takeover of ASCO in France.

In 2005, Stefan Messer and his family also succeeded in taking over the financial investor’s majority stake in the MEC Group. BIT Analytical Instruments GmbH, a leading full service provider for medical and analytical instruments based in Germany and the USA, is also part of the MEC Group. It too was formed from the Messer Group. Ever since, Stefan Messer has been writing a new chapter in the history of the family business which was started by his grandfather, Adolf Messer, and continued by his father, Hans Messer, for over 40 years.