Heraeus takes over Argor-Heraeus refinery

German precious metals group Heraeus has acquired Swiss precious metals processor Argor-Heraeus (Argor), the company has announced.

In addition to its current share of about 33% of Argor, Heraeus will acquire the stakes of former co-owners Commerzbank and Münze Österreich, the Austrian mint, as well as the shares held by Argor’s management.

Argor’s key business focuses on refining mined gold, recycling precious metals and the industrial processing of bars, coins, alloys and semi-finished products.

“The complete acquisition of the shares will enable Heraeus to fully benefit from Argor’s expertise and processing capacity for gold and silver,” ceo Jan Rinnert said on the reasons for the takeover.

“Argor is the ideal match for Heraeus’s existing precious metals business, which has largely focused on platinum group metals. The takeover will allow Heraeus to expand its business and become the world’s largest precious metals service provider,” he added.

The Argor refinery, which has been in operation since 1951, is one of the largest in the world and one of only five refineries in Switzerland to be accredited by the London Bullion Market Assn (LBMA) for good delivery.

According to its 2014 corporate responsibility report, it has refining capacity of 350-400 tpy of gold. The refinery also produces platinum, palladium and silver, all of which are also accepted for good delivery.

In 1973, 100% of its shares were sold to Swiss banking giant UBS. In 1986, UBS and Heraeus Group formed a joint venture, creating Argor-Heraeus SA.

In 1999, Heraeus and the management acquired 100% of the company, bringing Commerzbank on board. Three years later, Münze Österreich also took a stake.

The parties have agreed not to disclose financial details of the deal.

Approval by the relevant authorities is required before the deal can be concluded, the announcement said.