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SHV Holdings: A Story Of Diversification And Adaptability

May 3, 2012

SHV (Steenkolen Handels-Vereeniging) Holdings was founded in 1896 in Utrecht, The Netherland by a group of eight coal wholesalers. In 1904, the company acquired exclusive trading rights in German coal from the Wesfalen area. It began innovations in the coal trading industry by constructing the first mechanical coal transporter and an elevator coal transporter in 1907. It made other innovations in the loading and handling of coal in the Netherlands.

Aside from coal the company went into synthetic fabrics production. The company formed Unitas a capital investment firm which played essential roles in the formation of major Dutch corporations such as Azko and KLM.

SHV began oil trading in the late 1930s. By the late 1950s it had a network of gasoline stations stretching from the Netherlands to Germany and Austria.

Then the company went into the natural gas business providing financial and support services to those operating in this new industry in the Netherlands. With the coal industry in the Netherland collapsing, the company diversified in earnest going into the electronics business in the late 1960s.

In 1968 it co-partnered to form the Makro wholesale cash-and carry chain. In 1975 the company entered the recycling business with the purchase of an American scrap metal trading company.  It also went into the dry bulk hauling business. SHV entered the LPG business in Europe as well.

It also became part of a private equity company NPM Capital, and among other activities is going into renewable energy.

Over a hundred years old the company has always been adapting not disappearing with the collapse of the coal market. It is still very much a privately held company, considered one of the largest in the Netherlands.


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