“from the Netherlands, to the world”
Founded on December 23rd, 1878 by a group of bankers and traders, HVA (Handelsvereniging Amsterdam or Trading Company Amsterdam) began its functions on January 1st, 1879.
For many years after its foundation, HVA adhered to the terms of its original charter, in limiting its activities to general trading including handling imports for-, and financing and shipping produce from estate companies.
The economic depression of the 1880s and European sugar beet protectionism combined to persuade HVA into a change of its original charter. Low coffee and sugar prices prevented some estate companies from repaying loans advanced, so by 1892 HVA had taken over five coffee estates as well as a sugar factory in Indonesia. From then onward, the company’s articles of association having been revised in 1889, HVA engaged in the implementation of large-scale agriculture projects, planting sugar cane, coffee, tea, oil palm, cassava, sisal, abaca and other tropical crops, thereby contributing to Indonesia’s large-scale agricultural development until 1957, with a pause of its activities in that country during the second world war.
Owning to the continuing deterioration of political relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia resulting from the non-transfer to the latter of Irian Barat (New Guinea) in 1949 and the consequent disputes, the Indonesian government seized all Dutch enterprises in 1957, subsequently nationalizing them. This action forced the repatriation of all Dutch personnel in 1957 and 1958, thus ending HVA’s near-eighty years of work in Indonesia.
HVA was able in 1951 to start sugar cultivation in Ethiopia, where sugar had never before been produced.
After agreements with a Greek family which owned vast parts of land in the Wonji plain, HVA started with land improvement and irrigation works until, in March 1954, the Wonji sugar factory got inaugurated. After great success of the Wonji factory, another area got assumed and a second sugar factory got erected in the Shoa region. In 1965, one more agreement came with the Ethiopian government for the opening of a third factory, that in Metahara.
Video: The Dutch Queen Juliana visiting the HVA factories in Ethiopia
Unfortunately, following a coup d’état which resulted among other in the execution of several Ethiopian members of parliament and even the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, the military government with a one-sided decision, transferred all HVA- Ethiopia shares to itself, thereby ending the company’s activities in the country.
Diversification and global activities
Already from 1958, HVA had established a global consulting and project development division in agriculture. When the Ethiopian endeavor ended abruptly, the company had already other remarkable activities and managed agricultural projects on behalf of private entities and governmental organizations in more than 30 countries: Indonesia, The Philippines, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Trinidad, Jamaica, Mauritania, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Surinam, Brazil and Argentina.
In the years that followed, projects in even more countries started being added to HVA’s portfolio, like CIS countries, Russia, China, Vietnam, etc.
The roaring 90’s
From the early 90’s the company entered an era where various investors acquired majority stakes in HVA, attracted by the company’s vast global network of significant clients. Among these investors were Melchemie, Boskalis and several other until the company ended in the hands of the Coop Group. None of these investors managed to tap the full potential of the company and with the bankruptcy of the Coop Group the cycle of changing key shareholders had come to an end. The constant changes also resulted in thinning out HVA. At its pick, HVA employed close to 200.000 people.
In the recent years, major shifts in the agriculture-consulting market, led HVA to change direction in its activities. Nowadays HVA has evolved into a worldwide operating project development company in the agriculture and aquaculture sector and offers its full-range services exclusively to PE/VC funds, starting from project sourcing and ending with managing a fully operational enterprise.
Further, due to HVA’s vast experience with large scale agriculture, HVA obtained the know-how and requisite methodology regarding the restoration of damage incurred by natural disasters. Therefore, HVA has developed and offers globally a Post Disaster Agriculture package of services.
Finally, HVA offers valuation advisory services related to agricultural projects.