Specialty chemicals is the term used to describe a particular part of the chemical industry. It deals with special chemical products that are not intended for a mass market, require a high degree of research and development, and can usually only be produced using complex processes. Here is an overview of the five largest speciality chemicals suppliers in Germany. They are also part of our list of the 600 largest chemical companies in Germany.

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“The best overview of all German chemical companies.”

  • Excel list of the 600 largest German chemical companies for download
  • Includes: sales (since 2015), number of employees, e-mail, address, telephone number, management, etc.
  • Detailed information on the industry (speciality chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paints and coatings, construction chemicals, etc.)
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  • Last update: 21.04.2020

1st place: BASF SE, Ludwigshafen: 59.3 billion sales (2019)

In terms of sales, BASF is Germany’s largest chemical company and one of the largest in the world. The company employs almost 119,000 people in more than 80 countries and has over 390 production sites worldwide. The BASF site at the headquarters in Ludwigshafen is also a world leader in the field of chemicals, covering an area of 10 square kilometres.

Speciality chemicals are only one part of BASF’s broad production program, which is divided into the Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care, and Agricultural Solutions segments. Speciality Chemicals – part of the Performance Materials segment – primarily includes polyurethanes, thermoplastics, foam specialities, and industrial applications.

2nd place: Evonik Industries AG, Essen: €13.1 billion sales (2019)

Evonik Industries was founded in 2006 and the company name Evonik was changed in 2007 to reflect the spin-off of the non-coal business of RAG Aktiengesellschaft (formerly Ruhrkohle AG). The RAG Foundation is Evonik’s principal owner. The Group has over 32,000 employees and operates worldwide.

Speciality chemicals and high-performance materials make up Evonik’s business model. Speciality chemicals are primarily located in the Evonik Degussa subgroup (formerly Degussa AG). The Performance Materials Business Unit produces polymer materials and intermediates, particularly for the agrochemical, rubber, and plastics industries. Evonik is one of the world’s leading suppliers of speciality chemicals.

3rd place: Helm AG, Hamburg: €8.3 billion sales (2019)

Helm AG in Hamburg is primarily a chemicals dealer, not a manufacturer. The family-owned group, which developed from an import and export business founded in 1900, now trades worldwide in chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers.

Helm has about 1600 employees and is present in about 30 countries with over 100 subsidiaries. The chemical trade accounts for about 80 percent of the turnover and includes a wide range of products, including speciality chemicals. Europe accounts for the majority of trading turnover and about a quarter of it comes from America and a sixth from Asia.

4th place: Wacker Chemie AG, Munich: 4.9 billion euros in sales (2019)

Wacker Chemie has existed since 1914 and is owned by the Wacker family. Today, the company is a global player with nearly 15,000 employees. Wacker Chemie has 23 production sites worldwide and sells its products in more than 100 countries.

Wacker’s chemical production is based on silicon and ethylene. Polysilicones are produced for the solar industry, while silicones are used in the construction and automotive industries and in the production of paints, coatings, textiles and paper. In the Polymers division, Wacker-Chemie produces ethene-based VAM (vinyl acetate) and VAE (vinyl acetate-ethylene) as intermediates for the construction industry.

5th place: Altana AG, Wesel: EUR 2.3 billion sales (2019)

Altana was created in 1977 by separating divisions from the Varta group. Since 2007 when the pharmaceuticals division was sold, Altana has been a pure speciality chemicals company. The company has around 6,500 employees and 47 production sites worldwide. The main owner is SKion GmbH owned by Quandt heiress Susanne Klatten.

Altana offers special chemical products for paint manufacturers, paint and plastics processors, the cosmetics, printing, and electrical industries. Altana produces a wide range of speciality chemicals for these industries, including additives, sealing and casting compounds, effect pigments, impregnating agents, metallic printing inks, speciality coatings, and adhesives.

Picture source: Bill Oxford

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Originally posted on May 13, 2020 @ 1:07 pm


The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is better known as a port and trading metropolis than as a chemical location. However, well-known chemical companies are based in Hamburg and its surrounding area. They generate around nine percent of the turnover of the chemical industry in Germany – over 9 billion euros p.a. These are the 3 largest chemical companies in Hamburg. They are part of our list of the 600 largest chemical companies in Germany.

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  • Excel list of the 600 largest German chemical companies for download
  • Includes: sales (since 2015), number of employees, e-mail, address, telephone number, management, etc.
  • Detailed information on the industry (speciality chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paints and coatings, construction chemicals, etc.)
  • Download valid at any time, free updates within one year after purchase, free preview file available
  • Last update: 21.04.2020

1st place: Helm AG, Hamburg: 8.3 billion euros turnover (2019)

Helm was founded in 1900 as an import and export company in Hamburg. As it changed ownership, the company specialised in the chemical trade after the 2nd World War. Today, Helm is an internationally operating wholesaler of chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers.

The family business has over 1,600 employees and is represented by more than 100 branches in around 30 countries. Trade and distribution take place worldwide. On a smaller scale, Helm is involved in methanol production and biotechnologies in various countries through cooperations and partnerships.

2nd place: Beiersdorf AG, Hamburg: 7.7 billion euros sales (2019)

Beiersdorf was founded in 1892 by the Hamburg pharmacist Paul C. Beiersdorf. Today the company is active worldwide and employs almost 21,000 people. Beiersdorf AG is majority-owned by Maxingvest AG, which is backed by the Herz family of entrepreneurs. Maxingvest is also the sole owner of Tchibo.

Beiersdorf is known above all for its branded products in the cosmetics, skin, hair and body care sectors. Brands such as Niveau, Labello, 8×4, and Hansaplast are represented in the majority of German households. Beiersdorf has two business segments: Consumer and tesa. The tesa subgroup produces adhesive tapes.

3rd place: Evotec SE, Hamburg: 446 million euros sales (2019)

Evotec SE is one of the world’s leading drug discovery and development companies. The company was founded in 1993 by Nobel Prize winner Manfred Eigen and various other renowned scientists. Today, Evotec employs around 2,600 people, of which about 2,000 are scientists.

Active ingredient research is the company’s core business. It is carried out in cooperation with renowned partners from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Research focuses on neuroscience, pain causes and treatment, metabolic and inflammatory diseases as well as oncology.

Picture source: Esther Driehaus
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Originally posted on May 12, 2020 @ 1:30 pm


More than 200 chemical companies with around 55,000 employees are located in Bavaria. A geographical focus of the industry is the Bavarian Chemical Triangle in eastern Upper Bavaria. However, there are also many chemical companies outside of the region, most of which produce preliminary products for other industries. Below is a list of the 3 largest chemical companies in Bavaria. These are also part of our list of the 600 largest chemical companies in Germany.

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  • Includes: sales (since 2015), number of employees, e-mail, address, telephone number, management, etc.
  • Detailed information on the industry (speciality chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paints and coatings, construction chemicals, etc.)
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1st place: Gebr. Knauf KG, Iphofen: 7.6 billion euros (2019)

In the small Lower Franconian town of Iphofen in the district of Kitzingen, one does not necessarily expect a company with worldwide activities. But this is the Gebr. Knauf KG, whose origins lie in a gypsum factory in the Saarland. The family-owned company is divided into a number of individual companies.

Today the name Knauf stands for a wide range of chemically-based building materials for the construction industry. Knauf manufactures and sells plaster and facade systems, dry screed, plasterboard for dry construction, insulation materials and packaging as well as machines for plaster and mortar processing. The group has 35,000 employees and is represented in 86 countries worldwide.

2nd place: Wacker Chemie AG, Munich: 4.9 billion euros in sales (2019)

Ethene and silicon – these are the two basic raw materials used by Wacker-Chemie AG. Founded in 1914, the Bavarian chemical company is now a global player with 23 production sites on three continents and sales in over 100 countries worldwide. Nearly 15,000 employees work in the company, where the Wacker family continues to call the shots.

Wacker Chemie has four divisions: Polysilicone (polysilicon for solar solutions), Silicones (approx. 2800 silicone products as precursors for various industries), Polymers (polymeric binders: including adhesives, mortars, paints, concrete binders), and Biosolutions (production processes for bioactive substances and pharmaceutical proteins).

3rd place: Hexal AG, Holzkirchen (Upper Bavaria): 1.4 billion euros turnover (2019)

Hexal is a well-known manufacturer of generic drugs. These are imitation versions with the same active ingredients as well-known drugs that are also approved for sale. The company, which now has 3,700 employees, was founded in 1986 by the twin Strüngmann brothers.

In 2005 it was sold to the Swiss Novartis Group, a leading global pharmaceutical and biotech conglomerate. Within the Novartis Group, Hexal is part of the Sandoz subgroup, which is now also based in Holzkirchen. The name Sandoz is linked to the former Sandoz Group. Novartis was created in 1996 from the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz (old).

Picture source: Mario Dobelmann

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Originally posted on May 13, 2020 @ 12:44 pm


Berlin has always been a centre for administration, but it has also been an important industrial location since the industrialisation of the 19th century. The chemical industry has its firm place on the Spree. Almost 13,000 Berlin employees work in the chemical industry. In this article, we present a list of the three largest chemical companies in Berlin at a glance.

They are part of our list of the 600 largest chemical companies in Germany.

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  • Excel list of the 600 largest German chemical companies for download
  • Includes: sales (since 2015), number of employees, e-mail, address, telephone number, management, etc.
  • Detailed information on the industry (speciality chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paints and coatings, construction chemicals, etc.)
  • Download valid at any time, free updates within one year after purchase, free preview file available
  • Last update: 21.04.2020

1st place: Berlin-Chemie AG, Berlin: 1.7 billion euros turnover (2019)

Berlin-Chemie can trace its beginnings back to 1890. In the GDR, the company was a leading pharmaceutical manufacturer and, since 1992, has been part of the Italian Menarini Group, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Italy. As a German subsidiary, Berlin-Chemie employs around 5,400 people.

Drugs for chronic diseases are a focal point of Berlin-Chemie’s pharmaceutical production. Important product groups include antidiabetics, analgesics, antirheumatic drugs, drugs for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, gastrointestinal drugs, and thyroid therapeutics. The company’s strong position in the Central and Eastern European markets dates back to the GDR era.

2nd place: Atotech Deutschland GmbH, Berlin: USD 1.2 billion in sales (2019)

Atotech is a leading global supplier of speciality chemical processes, equipment, and plating solutions. The origins of the company date back to 1895. Today’s Atotech was formed in 1993 from various mergers within the former Elf Aquitaine Group. Currently, Atotech is owned by the US derivatives equity investor Carlyle Group.

Atotech has more than 4,000 employees and is active in 40 countries around the globe. The company develops, produces, and sells coating chemicals and equipment for the production of printed circuit boards, semiconductors, and other electronic components. Atotech has particular expertise in the field of electronic coating.

3rd place: Aristo Pharma GmbH, Berlin: 135 million Euro sales (2018)

Aristo Pharma was formed in 2008 from the merger of several medium-sized pharmaceutical manufacturers and today has over 1,500 employees. With its headquarters in Berlin, Aristo Pharma GmbH acts as an umbrella for five companies: Pharma Wernigerode, Steiner & Co., Lindopharm, Advance Pharma, Medinsa, and esparma Pharma Services.

Aristo Pharma manufactures a wide range of prescription and over-the-counter medicines at five production sites in Germany. The product range also includes herbal preparations, cold remedies and bath additives. In addition to Germany, the products are sold in many other European and Asian countries.

Picture source: Marcin Jozwiak

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Originally posted on May 12, 2020 @ 1:20 pm