Chairman of the board, Franz Haniel & Cie
Born: November 21, 1942, in Krefeld, Germany.
Education: Degree in business finance.
Career: State of North Rhine–Westphalia, fiscal administrator; Franz Haniel & Cie, 1982–2001, head, tax department; chairman of board, 2001–.
Address: Franz-Haniel-Platz 1, 47119 Duisburg, Germany; http://www.haniel.de.
■ Günther Hülse was the chairman of the board of directors of Franz Haniel & Cie, one of the largest companies in Germany. Franz Haniel consisted of groups involved in many areas, including construction, pharmaceuticals, steel, and department stores. Hülse worked his way through the ranks, joining Franz Haniel in 1982 as head of the tax department and becoming chairman in 2001.
Hülse was born in Krefeld, Germany, on November 21, 1942. He earned a degree in business finance and went to work in the fiscal administration department of the state of North Rhine–Westphalia for several years. In 1982 he joined Franz Haniel as head of the tax department. Based in Duisburg, Germany, Franz Haniel had been a family-owned business since its inception in 1756. The company professed to be interested only in projects whose "rate of return is in line with the associated risk," according to the Franz Haniel Web site, which also stated, "Speculative transactions are incompatible with our culture." The company comprised six divisions: Belfor International, a company that provided fire- and water-damage repair service; Celesio, Germany's leading pharmaceuticals distributor; ELG Haniel, a company that recycled and traded in raw materials for the stainless steel industry; Haniel Bau-Industrie, a business that supplied building materials and raw materials and fixing systems; Haniel International, a group that supplied and rented work wear and washroom services and materials; and TAKKT, a mail-order company for office, plant, and warehouse equipment. Franz Haniel also owned Metro, Germany's largest retailer, which operated several stores and restaurants in Germany and 27 other countries, including India, Russia, and Ukraine.
In 1992 Hülse became a member of the Franz Haniel board, and in June 2001 he assumed the position of chairman of the board. Around the same time he also became chairman of the supervisory board of Celesio. He was also in charge of human resources, taxes, and corporate communications at Franz Haniel. Soon after Hülse became chairman, Franz Haniel purchased the German aerated concrete products business of RMC Group, a British company. Also in 2001 Franz Haniel bid for a rival conglomerate Preussag Fels-Werke, a building materials firm. In addition, Franz Haniel investigated purchasing Inrecon, an insurance and reconstruction company based in Birmingham, Michigan, which it planned to add to its water and fire damage repair company, Belfor.
In 2001 Hülse became chairman of the supervisory board of TAKKT. TAKKT had taken over the American mail-order company Hubert the year before, and Hülse was expecting further expansion after he became chairman. Hülse wanted the company to focus on setting up distribution companies in Portugal, Poland, and the United States. He also wanted TAKKT to mail its first shipment of catalogs from Kaiser + Kraft to Ireland and from Hubert to Canada. Hülse stated in the TAKKT annual report that "these investments were considered advisable from a business point of view, even under the current economic climate. The supervisory board strongly supported this strategic expansion."
In 2003 Hülse gave an annual address that stated Franz Haniel was doing well despite economic hardships. Expansion and acquisitions had helped the company succeed while the world economy was uncertain. On May 22, 2003, Hülse was nominated chairman of the supervisory board of Metro. He had become a member of the supervisory board of Allianz Lebensversicherungs in April 2003. In late 2003 Hülse announced his resignation from the Metro supervisory board as of June 3, 2004, citing illness. He also resigned as chairman of the supervisory board of Celesio, the German pharmaceuticals trading company that had been part of Franz Haniel since April 29, 2004, and from the supervisory board of TAKKT. Hülse remained a member of both bodies but no longer took a leading role. His plan was to focus on his position as chairman of the board of Franz Haniel. In 2004 Hülse reported strong increases in sales. He was quoted as follows on the Franz Haniel Web site: "In the challenging economic environment which has prevailed in the year to date, the Group's successful long-term trend remains unbroken—not least thanks to the strong commitment shown by all employees of the Group."
Almond, Siobhan, "Group Sells Concrete Products Unit," The Daily Deal , July 24, 2001.
Braude, Jonathan, "Bidding for Fels-Werke," The Daily Deal , May 9, 2001.
Corporate news announcement processed and transmitted by Hugin ASA, Europe Intelligence Wire, April 29, 2004.
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Marsh, Peter, "Family Empire Reaps Rewards of Regular Disco Dancing: Private Companies," Financial Times , May 6, 2003.
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—Catherine Victoria Donaldson