Berenberg Bank

"Berenberg" redirects here. For the banking family, see Berenberg family. For other uses, see Berenberg (disambiguation).
Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co.
Limited partnership with personally liable partners
Industry Financial services
Founded 1590 (1590)
Founders Hans and Paul Berenberg
Area served
Key people
Hans-Walter Peters
Hendrik Riehmer
Products Investment banking, private banking, asset management, commercial banking
Number of employees
Ca. 1,500[1]

Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, commonly known as Berenberg Bank and branded as Berenberg, is a Hamburg-based multinational investment banking and private banking company, founded by the Belgian-origined Berenberg family in 1590. It is the world's second oldest bank and the oldest merchant bank. Its owners, the Berenberg and Gossler families, belonged to the ruling elite of Hanseatic merchants of the city-republic of Hamburg and several family members served in the city-state's government from 1735.[2][3][4]

Berenberg is active in investment banking, particularly pan-European equity research, brokerage and capital markets transactions, in addition to private banking for wealthy customers and institutional asset management. Berenberg has around 1,500 employees; in addition to its headquarters in Hamburg, it has a significant presence in London, Zurich and Frankfurt, and 14 further offices in Europe, the Americas and Asia. The bank is organized as a limited partnership with personally liable partners, and is noted for its conservative business strategy. Following the 2000s financial crisis, the bank has grown rapidly.[5] The current senior partner and head of the bank Hans-Walter Peters is also President of the Association of German Banks.


Main articles: Berenberg family and Gossler family
Coat of arms of the Berenberg family (detail, 1710)

The Berenberg Company was founded in Hamburg in 1590 by the brothers Hans (1561–1626) and Paul Berenberg (1566–1645). In 1585, the Protestant Berenbergs left Antwerp in today's Belgium, at the time one of Europe's commercial centres, as Protestants in the Low Countries were given the choice either to convert to Catholicism or leave the country. The bank has been continuously owned by their descendants ever since.

Cornelius Berenberg (1634–1711)

The Berenbergs were originally cloth merchants and quickly extended their business to other commodities. Hans Berenberg's grandson Cornelius Berenberg (1634–1711) was the first to engage in merchant banking and developed the company into a very successful merchant house and merchant bank. He forged trade links with France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Scandinavia and Russia. Family connections of the Berenbergs were instrumental to the development, especially in Livorno and Lisbon with their colonies of wealthy Dutch merchants.

Cornelius Berenberg's son, Rudolf Berenberg (1680–1746), was elected a Senator, that is, a member of the government of the city-state, in 1735. By the mid 18th century, investment banking and acceptance credits comprised a significant part of the firm's activities. Rudolf Berenberg was married to Anna Elisabeth Amsinck (1690–1748), a daughter of the Lisbon and Hamburg merchant Paul Amsinck (1649–1706) and a descendant of the Welser family. Their sons, Senator Paul Berenberg (1716–1768) and Johann Berenberg (1718–1772), became owners of the Berenberg company.

In 1768 Senator Paul Berenberg died childless, while his brother Johann Berenberg lost his only son in the same year. To ensure the continuation of the firm, Johann Berenberg took on his son-in-law Johann Hinrich Gossler (1738–90) as a new partner in 1769; he had married Berenberg's only daughter Elisabeth Berenberg (1749–1822) the previous year. The Gossler family is known since the 17th century, when Johann Hinrich Gossler's great-grandfather was a Hamburg burgher.[6] Elisabeth Berenberg was the last member of the Hamburg Berenberg family, which became extinct in the male line upon her death in 1822. Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg were the founders of the Berenberg-Gossler family, that rose to great prominence in 19th century Hamburg.

In 1788 Johann Hinrich Gossler took on a new partner, his son-in-law L.E. Seyler (1758–1836), who had married his eldest daughter Anna Henriette Gossler (1771–1836). From 1790, the company was led by L.E. Seyler, and his mother-in-law Elisabeth Berenberg was a partner in her own right from 1790 to 1800. L.E. Seyler was one of Hamburg's foremost merchants in his lifetime, and served as President of the Commerz-Deputation and as a member of the Hamburg Parliament. Seyler's brother-in-law Johann Heinrich Gossler (1775–1842) joined the firm in 1798 and became a Hamburg senator in 1821. Under Seyler's leadership, the company name was changed to Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. effective from 1 January 1791. In the company name, Joh. Berenberg refers to Johann Berenberg (1718–1772), Gossler refers to Johann Hinrich Gossler and Co. originally refers to L.E. Seyler.

Johann Heinrich Gossler (II)'s son Hermann Gossler (1802–1877) was a senator and First Mayor of Hamburg, while his son Johann Heinrich Gossler (III) (1805–1879) continued the firm. Johann Heinrich Gossler (III) was the father of Baron Johann von Berenberg-Gossler (1839–1913). In 1880 the Hamburg Senate granted the family the name of Berenberg-Gossler, and in 1888, the family was ennobled in the Kingdom of Prussia as von Berenberg-Gossler. In 1910 Johann von Berenberg-Gossler was given the title Baron. Baron Johann von Berenberg-Gossler was the father of John von Berenberg-Gossler (1866–1943), a Senator and German Ambassador in Rome.[7][8]

Mortzenhaus, the company's seat from 1788

In the 19th century, the bank financed the industrialisation process in Hamburg and transportation activities, and was strongly involved in the North American trade and its finance. The company was (together with the merchant house H.J. Merck & Co.) one of the main founders of Germany's largest shipping companies, the Hamburg America Line (HAPAG) in 1847 and Norddeutscher Lloyd in 1857. They were also one of the main founders of Vereinsbank Hamburg (now the HypoVereinsbank) (1857), the Ilseder Hütte ironworks (1858), and the Norddeutsche Versicherungs AG (1857). The houses of Berenberg-Gossler, H.J. Merck and Salomon Heine were also the main founders of the Norddeutsche Bank in 1856, the first joint-stock bank in northern Germany and one of the predecessors of Deutsche Bank.[9] Furthermore, Berenberg Bank was among the founding shareholders of Bergens Privatbank (1855), the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (1865), Den Danske Landmandsbank (1871) and Svenska Handelsbanken (1871).[10]

The Berenberg family and company had branches in Portugal, Italy and London from the 17th century. A branch of the Berenberg family also established the London firm Meyer & Berenberg in the 17th century and were among London's prominent West Indies merchants. In recent years Berenberg's London office in Threadneedle Street has grown rapidly to become Berenberg's second largest office, focusing on investment banking and private banking for the ultra wealthy.[11]


A stylized version of the combined Berenberg–Gossler coat of arms used as the logo of Berenberg Bank

The company's logo is a stylized version of the combined coat of arms of the Berenberg and Gossler families, featuring the Berenberg bear (adopted in the 16th century in Belgium) and the Gossler goose foot (adopted in 1773 by Johann Hinrich Gossler).

Business segments

The bank is active in the following business segments:


Berenberg Bank has its head office in Hamburg and has offices in Bielefeld, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Stuttgart, Braunschweig, London, Luxembourg, Paris, Vienna, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Zurich, and Shanghai. Zurich moreover accommodates the subsidiary Berenberg Bank (Schweiz) AG. Together with Bankhaus Lampe, the bank additionally holds a stake in the Frankfurt-based investment company Universal Investment.

Berenberg Bank Stiftung

The Berenberg Bank Stiftung is a philanthropic foundation founded in 1990 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the establishment of Berenberg Bank. The chairman of the board is Joachim von Berenberg-Consbruch. The foundation awards several prizes, including the Berenberg Culture Prize to younger artists and the Berenberg Scholarships to individual artists and groups. From 2009, the Universitäts-Gesellschaft Hamburg has awarded the Berenberg Prize for Scientific Language, that promotes German as a scientific language.[13]


Berenberg Bank is currently run by two personally liable partners, Hans-Walter Peters and Hendrik Riehmer.

The ownership structure is as follows:


Berenberg family
No Picture Name and lifespan Period Head of the company Notes
1 Hans Berenberg
2 Paul Berenberg
3 Hans Berenberg
4 Johann Berenberg
5 Rudolf Berenberg (1623–1672) 1645–1672
6 Cornelius Berenberg
7 Johann Berenberg
8 Senator Rudolf Berenberg
9 Rudolf Berenberg
10 Senator Paul Berenberg
11 Johann Berenberg
12 Johann Hinrich Gossler
1769‒1790 1772–1790 Husband of Elisabeth Berenberg; son-in-law of Johann Berenberg
14 Ludwig Erdwin Seyler
1788–1836 1790–1836 Husband of Anna Henriette Gossler; son-in-law of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg. After his death, his children briefly were co-owners of the Berenberg company from 26 October to 31 December 1836[14]
15 Elisabeth Gossler née Berenberg
1790‒1800 Daughter of Johann Berenberg; the last member of the Berenberg family in the male line; wife of Johann Hinrich Gossler
16 Senator Johann Heinrich Gossler
1798 ‒1842 1836–1842 Son of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
17 Johann Heinrich Gossler
1830‒1879 Son of Johann Heinrich Gossler; grandson of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
18 Elisabeth von Hosstrup
1836 Daughter of L.E. Seyler and Anna Henriette Gossler; granddaughter of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg; wife of Gerhard von Hosstrup
19 Johann Hinrich Seyler 1836 Son of L.E. Seyler and Anna Henriette Gossler; grandson of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
20 Emilie Homann 1836 Daughter of L.E. Seyler and Anna Henriette Gossler; granddaughter of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
21 Louise Auguste Seyler 1836 Daughter of L.E. Seyler and Anna Henriette Gossler; granddaughter of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
22 Maria Seyler 1836 Daughter of L.E. Seyler and Anna Henriette Gossler; granddaughter of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
23 Louise Pinckernelle 1836 Daughter of L.E. Seyler and Anna Henriette Gossler; granddaughter of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
24 Henriette Wegner
1836 Daughter of L.E. Seyler and Anna Henriette Gossler; granddaughter of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg; wife of Norwegian industrialist Benjamin Wegner
25 Wilhelm Gossler
1837–1858 Son of Johann Heinrich Gossler; grandson of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
26 Baron John von Berenberg-Gossler
1864–1913 Son of Johann Heinrich Gossler (1805–1879), great-grandson of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg
27 Ernst Gossler 1873–1893
28 Senator John von Berenberg-Gossler
29 Baron Cornelius von Berenberg-Gossler (1874–1953) 1898–1953
30 Andreas von Berenberg-Gossler (1880–1938) 1908–1923
33 Baron Heinrich von Berenberg-Gossler
Non-family partners
No Picture Name Period Head of the company Notes
13 Franz Friedrich Kruckenberg
1777‒1819 Joined Berenberg as an accountant and later became a partner. He was married to Johann Hinrich Gossler's younger sister Margaretha Katharina Gossler (1749–1795) and was thus the brother-in-law of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg, but not on the Berenberg side of the family.
31 Heinrich Burchard 1920‒1930
32 Walter Gleich 1923–1930
34 August Rohdewald 1948–1961
35 Heinz A. Lessing 1961–1979
36 Karl-Theodor Lindemann 1964–1972
37 Joachim H. Wetzel 1968–1998
38 Baron Peter von Kap-Herr 1976–1999
39 Joachim von Berenberg-Consbruch 1978‒2005 1979–2005 He was born Joachim von Consbruch. His mother was married in her second marriage to Cornelius von Berenberg-Gossler, and he subsequently combined his stepfather's name with his own family name.
40 Claus-G. Budelmann 1988–2008
41 Andreas Odefey 1998–2000
42 Hans-Walter Peters Since 2000 Since 2005
43 Guido M. Sollors 2004–2008
44 Andreas Brodtmann Since 2009
45 Hendrik Riehmer Since 2009

See also


  1. "Berenberg's rapid expansion shows no sign of letting". The Financial Times.
  2. Gail Rolland, Market Players: A Guide to the Institutions in Today's Financial Markets, Wiley, 2011, ISBN 047097687X, p. 110
  3. Christian Siedenbiedel (24.10.2009), "Die Bank der feinen Hanseaten," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
  4. Volker Mester (24.07.2003), "Deutschlands älteste Bank," Hamburger Abendblatt
  5. "Privatbanken profitieren von der Finanzkrise". Sü
  6. "Genealogie der Familie Gossler," in: Vierteljahrsschrift für Heraldik, Sphragistik und Genealogie, vol. 9, pp. 17–25, 1881
  7. Johann Heinrich Goßler II, Neue Deutsche Biographie
  8. Manfred Pohl, Sabine Freitag, Handbook on the History of European Banks, European Association for Banking History, 1994
  9. Michael North: "The Great German Banking Houses and International Merchants, Sixteenth to Nineteenth Century", in: Alice Teichova, Ginette Kurgan-Van Hentenryk and Dieter Ziegler (eds.), Banking, Trade and Industry: Europe, America and Asia from the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN 9780521188876, p. 46
  10. The banking house in the period of promoterism Archived December 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.,
  11. "Berenberg expands UK private banking team to serve ultra wealthy". Reuters India.
  12. Berenberg will nur Millionäre, Handelsblatt
  13. Berenberg Bank Stiftung Archived December 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. Hamburger Nachrichten, 19 April 1837, p. 5


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