East Asiatic Company

(Est. 1897)

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The East Asiatic Company was founded by H.N. Andersen. He was born in Nakskov on the island of Lolland in the southern part of Denmark. In 1871 H.N. Andersen’s wish to go to sea is fulfilled when he signs on as a crew member of the barque ‘MARS’. He leaves Nakskov to board the ship in Liverpool, and visits Bangkok for the first time in 1876. He is appointed Captain on the Siamese vessel ‘THOM KRAMOM’ in 1884, and after a voyage to Europe, carrying teak, he decides to settle and establish the trading company ‘Andersen & Co’ in Bangkok that same year. ‘Andersen & Co.’ was the forerunner of EAC.

The East Asiatic Company Ltd. A/S (A/S Det Østasiatiske Kompagni) is founded in Copenhagen on 27 March 1897 as a limited liability company with a share capital of DKK 2mill. The company is listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. Isak Glückstadt, Senior Managing Director of Landsmandsbanken (today ‘Danske Bank’) becomes the first Chairman of the Board. H.N. Andersen is appointed Managing Director of EAC. The objective for EAC was to create a Danish company engaged in international trade, industry and transport. A shipping line between Europe and the Far East is to operate in co-operation with trading and industrial activities. EAC takes over the activities of ‘Andersen & Co’, Bangkok which becomes the Company’s first overseas branch office. The existing activities of ‘Andersen & Co’ become part of the platform for EAC.

In 1898 the steamship ‘SIAM’ leaves Copenhagen early March on her maiden voyage, inaugurating the EAC service to the Far East. Further vessels are required for the service, and the first order is placed with the Danish yard, Burmeister & Wain (B&W) Copenhagen to build the SS ‘ANNAM’ which enters service in the year 1899. In 1899 EAC moves into the newly completed headquarters, Asia House, in the Free Port of Copenhagen.

In 1899 the Russian East Asiatic Co., the first of a series of associated companies, is established. Quickly followed by the opening of the French EAC (1902) and the South African Trading Company (1903). Also an EAC shipping service is established in the Gulf of Siam. In 1907 it is converted into a local company: The Siam Steam Navigation Company.

In 1900 the second overseas branch office is opened – in Shanghai, followed by several other branches and agencies in China soon after. In 1902 the Singapore branch office is opened. That year the business also expands into the Malay Peninsula and offices are opened in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. In 1905 EAC acquires the Mount Austin rubber plantation. This new activity is soon to be followed by an extensive involvement in the rubber trade, and the acquisition of additional plantations.

In 1906 the Europe/Far East shipping service is expanded and divided into two separate services: the Far East service and the Bangkok service. Purpose-built combined cargo and passenger liners – the so called EAC ‘White Ships’ – are later built for the Bangkok service.

In 1908 the new EAC Head Office, Holbergsgade 2, in Copenhagen is completed. Also in 1908 the Nørre Sundby Portland Cement Factory is established as the first EAC industrial company in Europe, with the aim to develop the synergy between the activities of shipping & trade.  The Danish Soy Cake Factory (1910) and the Stettiner Ölwerke (1911) follows shortly after. In 1909 EAC obtains a listing on the Paris Bourse.

In 1910 following the death of Isak Glückstadt, another participant at the founding meeting of 1897, Holger Petersen is elected Chairman of the Board. In 1911 three years prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, the EAC Europe/North Pacific service is established with a vessel sailing via the Magellan Strait. Also that year the first EAC London office is opened.

In 1912 MS ‘SELANDIA’, the world’s first ocean going diesel motor ship – built by Burmeister & Wain (B&W) Copenhagen, sets out on her maiden voyage in January. Also the West Indian Company is founded. In 1913 EAC confirms its confidence in marine diesel propulsion by ordering a series of motor ships. In 1914 a first office in North America is opened – in San Francisco and an office in New York follows in 1916. In 1915 EAC participates in the formation of the Danish insurance company Baltica A/S. Also the Steamship Company ORIENT is established by EAC to take over all its remaining cargo steamers, whereafter all cargo ships built for EAC are propelled by diesel engines. 

In 1916 Nakskov Shipyard (southern part of Denmark) is founded and the East Asiatic Industry and Plantation Co. is created to take over the activities of the Danish Soy Cake Factory and the Malay Peninsula plantations. In 1917 Holger Petersen dies and is succeeded by Emil Glückstadt (son of EAC’s first Chairman) as the Chairman of EAC’s Board. In 1919 EAC sets up United Baltic Corporation in London jointly with British interests (this company later played an important role in managing EAC’s fleet during the Second World War).

In 1920 the first Indonesian Branch office is opened in Surabaya. In 1923 H.N Andersen is elected Chairman of the Board in addition to his position as Presiding Managing Director. In 1929 the first East African branch office is established at Dar-es-Salaam. In 1932 the first transpacific service is established, operating primarily between the US/Canada west coast and China. In 1933 a branch office is opened in Madras, India, soon to be followed by offices in Calcutta and Bombay. In 1934 an office is opened in Hong Kong.

In 1937 a shipping service between Europe and India is opened. That year was also a sad one for the company as its founder, H.N. Andersen, died. His Royal Highness, Prince Axel of Denmark, who has worked with EAC since 1925 and has been a Managing Director since 1932, is elected as new Chairman of the Board and Presiding Managing Director. In 1939 EAC establishes its first Australian branch office in Sydney. Also EAC experiences its first war loss in October; when the MS ‘CANADA’ is sunk by a mine off Hull, England. In 1940 Germany occupies Denmark. A total of 17 EAC vessels are outside the zone of German control. Two ships are seized by the Axis Powers (and are later sunk). The remainder of the fleet participates in the Allied war effort, with the loss of nearly 100 lives and 11 vessels. EAC activities outside Denmark are in the hands of Hakon Christiansen, Managing Director. He operates primarily from New York, travelling between allied and neutral countries.

In 1942 the first timber concessions in Canada are acquired in the Gold River district on Vancouver Island. In 1944 the Holbergsgade, Copenhagen head office is destroyed in a counter-sabotage operation. EAC staff moves into temporary offices in the Copenhagen Free Port and later into no. 8 Kristianiagade in central Copenhagen. In 1945 after the war, efforts are swiftly made to reactivate all EAC operations and to re-establish the control with the world-wide organisation. In 1949 EAC moves back into the restored head office at Holbergsgade 2. Also that year EAC acquires the Old East African Trading Company in Mombasa. In 1950 EAC acquires the West African company R.T. Briscoe.

In January 1951 the MS ‘JUTLANDIA’ – converted into a hospital ship – sails from Copenhagen for operations in Korea under the auspices of the Danish Red Cross and the UN. (The Vessel returns to EAC service in 1954). In 1952 EAC acquires the company Tahsis Co., Vancouver – all sawmill and forestry activities of Vancouver Island. In 1953 HRH Prince Axel retires from his position as Presiding Managing Director, but continues as Chairman of the Board. Hakon Christiansen takes over as Presiding Managing Director. In 1954 EAC enters the Graphics business.

In 1960 HRH Prince Axel dies. Mogens Pagh becomes Chairman of the Board, in addition to presiding over the Executive Board. HH Prince George – son of Prince Axel – is elected to the Board. In 1965 EAC acquires the Plumrose company. In 1967 EAC Data in Copenhagen is established. EAC begins supplying Canadian grain to China (during the next 12 years EAC handles 16 million tons of Canadian wheat to China).

In 1969 the containerisation revolution in shipping started and the first orders for EAC’s containerships are placed, and are followed by a modernization of the EAC fleet. The changed operational environment encourages a strategy of co-operation, and a number of liner consortia are created including Scanservice (later ScanDutch), Scan Carriers and Johnson ScanStar. By 1970 EAC is the largest company in Scandinavia by turnover. In 1971 the Europe/West Africa shipping service is opened. Also that year the Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd produces its first beer. In 1972 two new container ships: MS ‘SELANDIA’ and MS ‘JUTLANDIA’ are delivered from the Burmeister & Wain (B&W), Copenhagen shipyard. Also P.T. Danmotors Vespa Indonesia joint venture is established in Indonesia and P.T. Danapaints, Indonesia joint ventures is established in co-operation with Indonesian interests and the Danish company Sadolin & Holmblad. In 1973 the majority of shares in the Kauri Timber Company Ltd., a leading sawmill and wood products company in Tasmania, Australia, is acquired.

In 1980 Managing Director Henning H. Sparsø, is appointed Presiding Managing Director. In 1981 T.W. Schmidt is elected Chairman of the Board. Also that year the new Carlsberg brewery in Hong Kong is inaugurated by HM Queen Margrethe of Denmark and HRH Prince Henrik.

Sadly the period from 1981 to 1992 was very difficult for EAC it was during this period that many loss making divisions were sold off and there was much restructuring of the business. EAC withdrew from shipping in this period to concentrate on other activities. Between 1993 and 1996 there was a major restructuring of the company and it was reorganised on a business unit basis rather than country units.

By 2002 EAC had become a highly focused enterprise with a solid platform for profitable growth. It was now refocussed primarily on four strategic businesses: EAC Nutrition, EAC Foods, EAC Industrial Ingredients and EAC Moving & Relocation Services. 5 business activities were sold in 2002 and 35 major assets and companies had been divested or closed down since early 1999. In 2006 after the sale of EAC Nutrition (1 January 2006) the restructured EAC had new management and had its group functions consolidated in Copenhagen. Thus the EAC Group consists materially of three market leading businesses: EAC Foods in Venezuela, EAC Industrial Ingredients in Asia and EAC Moving & Relocation Services in Asia.

Today with a small and dedicated corporate management based in EAC’s historical head office in Copenhagen, EAC operates three strategic businesses in Venezuela and Asia. The three businesses are wholly owned by EAC, but organised as independent groups, each with highly experienced, locally based management teams. All three businesses are profitable beyond their industry average and have brands and market positions representing high, intrinsic value.

EAC Foods (Plumrose) is the undisputed market leader within processed meat in Venezuela with an overall market share above 40%. The business owns and controls the entire value chain, from production of feed stuff, pig farms, slaughtering and meat processing to marketing, sales and nation-wide chilled distribution. With strong brands such as Plumrose and Oscar Mayer and a record of highly innovative product development, EAC Foods has delivered an unbroken history of growth and operating margins significantly above industry average.

EAC Industrial Ingredients focuses on marketing, sales and distribution of speciality chemicals to manufacturing industries in South and South East Asia. The business represents producers of industrial ingredients from all over the world and distributes their products throughout the eight countries, in which it operates. The business adds value by offering suppliers and customers technical, commercial, and supply chain services. EAC Industrial Ingredients enjoys a significant position as a regional market leader.

EAC Moving & Relocation Services (Santa Fe) provides high-quality moving and relocation services, records management and freight forwarding to corporate and individual clients in twelve Asian countries. With Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Japan as its key markets, Santa Fe’s success is boosted by strong GDP growth and continued inflow of foreign direct investments. Earnings are driven by a unique concept of high-margin relocation services, which provides in- and outbound expatriates with a full range of services, including immigration/visa, home/school search, language/cultural training, maid services etc.

East Asiatic Company (EAC) Group

EAC Foods (Plumrose)

EAC Industrial Ingredients

EAC Moving & Relocation Services (Santa Fe)

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