1896 - 1939

Foundation of SHV
On April 1, 1896, a group of eight Dutch coal wholesalers, some of which had been entrepreneurs and traders since the 18th century, founded the Steenkolen Handels-Vereeniging (SHV) in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

SHV becomes the key player in the Dutch coal market
By 1904, SHV had acquired exclusivity in the Netherlands for trading in German coal from the Westfalen area. SHV innovated the coal industry by building the first mechanical coal transporter as well as an elevator coal transporter with a - for 1907 revolutionary - capacity of 300 tons of coal per hour. SHV was and remained for many years a frontrunner in the development and modernisation of the Rotterdam harbour. SHV was the first company to use onshore bridges for loading and unloading coal. In 1913 the head office of SHV moved to its current location in Utrecht. SHV also had offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

SHV starts the ’venture capital’ company Unitas
In 1917 the NEMOS (N.V. Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot Ontginning van de Steenkolenvelden) was established to exploit the German anthracite mine "Sophia Jacoba". The majority of shares belonged to "Administratiekantoor Unitas", a company which was founded some years earlier by SHV and which was active in what one would today call ’venture capital’. Unitas was involved in the founding of Hoogovens, Akzo and KLM. From 1924 SHV started exporting coal and soon the foreign sales formed an important part of the activities of the company.