Bunge and BornBunge y Born was an Argentinian-based multinational corporation. It was an international grain and oilseed trader with an annual turnover of about $13 bn.
Started by European immigrants arriving in Argentina in the late 19th century to take advantage of the newly created wheatlands. Two families join forces to play a large role in the grain and oilseed business, initially in Argentina and then worldwide.
The owning families expanded their business into industry in Argentina and Brazil. Including textiles, paint, chemicals, fertilizer, banking and insurance. Throughout the early and mid-20th century they continued to be successful until 1974 when two third generation family members Jorge and Juan Born, were kidnapped by the Montoneros and recovered only after the payment of a $60m ransom. Concern over the terrorists use of the money was one of the factors that led to the military coup in April 1976.
The families became even more low profile. But in 1989, Jorge Born, president of the company from 1987 (replacing the "business genius" Mario Hirsch), began working closely with the government of Carlos Menem. Bunge provided the government with its first two economy ministers. This intervention in politics upset the other shareholders and together with the company's lacklustre business performance, Born was ousted in 1991 and replaced by Octavio Caraballo.
The prior unity between the shareholders disintergrated as Caraballo struggled to modernize the company. Bizzarely the ousted Jorge Born has started working with one of his former kidnappers, Rodolfo Galimberti.
In 1994 the Bermuda-registered Bunge International was created as the main company in which the families have shares. There are around 180 shareholders - the main families are Hirsch, Bunge, Born, Engels and De La Tour. This replaced the older structure in which individual shareholders had stakes in all the different Bunge companies. Now only in Argentina does the Bunge y Born name still exist.