Focused on growth
The Azelis leadership team oversees the company’s business strategy, ensuring effective corporate governance and implementing a fresh, innovative vision of chemical distribution – globally.
Hans Joachim Müller holds a PhD in Chemistry from the LMU (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität) university in Munich, one of Europe's premier academic and research institutions.
He also obtained a research fellowship at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). Müller joined Azelis from a leading speciality chemicals company where he sat on the Executive Committee.
His responsibilities included the business units catalysis & energy, emulsions, detergents & intermediates and oil & mining services.
Prior to this, he was a member of the Managing Board and Head of the Catalytic Technologies global Business Unit at a company specialising in catalysts and adsorbents.
His professional career started at a German chemicals company and continued in Hong Kong, where he was overseeing an inorganics business in Asia-Pacific.
As Group CEO, Hans Joachim Müller is ultimately responsible for achieving the financial returns set by the shareholders and for implementing the strategic direction set by the Board.
Thijs Bakker holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Economics from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands as well as a Post Graduate Master of Finance and Control (RC) from the Rotterdam School of Management.
Bakker has over 15 years’ international experience in finance and the chemical industry, having worked in various finance roles in the Netherlands, U.S. and across Asia Pacific for a leading global paints and coatings company and a major producer of speciality chemicals. In his most recent assignment, he was Finance Director Marine & Protective Coatings, based in Singapore.
Bakker joined Azelis as Chief Financial Officer in September 2016. He is a British national and currently lives with his wife and son in Antwerp.
Anna Bertona holds a Master of Science in Industrial Design Engineering from the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Rotterdam School of Management.
She initially held roles in product development in the automotive and consumer goods sector. After obtaining her Master's degree in Business Administration, she worked in strategy consultancy, most recently as a partner within A.T. Kearney. She has successfully completed a number of strategy, sales and performance improvement assignments, mainly in the utilities, transportation and chemicals industries.
Anna Bertona joined Azelis as Group VP Strategic Planning & Implementation in 2013 and was appointed Chief Strategy & Principal Officer in 2014. In 2016 she was appointed Chief Executive Officer EMEA to steer our market teams in the region and with a particular focus on Azelis principal development activities.
She lives in the North East area of Antwerp and in her spare time she participates in triathlons.
Frank Bergonzi holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut and has over 35 years of experience in the specialty chemical industry.
In 2012, Bergonzi was appointed President & CEO of KODA Distribution Group. Prior to that, he was Director, Corporate Distribution at one of the world’s leading chemical producers. He has held numerous key management positions with Fortune 100 Companies during his career.
In December 2015, Bergonzi was appointed CEO & President Azelis Americas, and is a member of the Azelis Board of Directors.
Bergonzi served on the Board of the NACD (National Association of Chemical Distributors) and also served as Chairman of the Supplier Advisory Panel, in addition to his role as a Board Trustee of the Chemical Education Fund. He is also an active member in the Chemical Club of New England (CCNE), Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC), American Coatings Association (ACA) and Drug, Chemical and Associated Trade (DCAT).
Laurent Nataf holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering from the Engineering School of Industrial Chemistry of Lyon, France and an MBA from the Sorbonne Graduate Business School in Paris, France. He spent the first six years of his career in R&D and production for a French based heavy detergents company.
In 2003 Nataf became Marketing and Sales Manager for Arnaud (founded in 1908 and merged with Italian company Novorchem to form Azelis in 2001).
His initial responsibilities at Arnaud included intermediates, custom synthesis, formulation additives and active ingredients. He went on to assume the role of International Business Director Chemical Industries in 2008, assumed responsibility for Composites in 2010 and then took on overall responsibility for the Azelis Industrial Chemicals business.
In 2012 Nataf was appointed Group Chief Operating Officer, a position he held until the recent appointment for CEO and President Asia Pacific in August 2016. He and his family have relocated to Singapore, following this last appointment.
In his spare time, Nataf enjoys football and travelling and tries to spend a lot of time with his two young daughters.
Board of Directors
Executive Committee members Dr. Hans-Joachim Müller and Thijs Bakker are also members of the Board of Directors, together with our partners from EQT; Kristiaan Nieuwenburg and Bert Janssens. Kees Verhaar, Jürgen Buchsteiner and Antonio Trius are Non-Executive Directors whereas Kees also acts as Chairman of the Board.
Dr. Trius, ex CEO of Cognis, has held senior and board level roles in a number of well known chemical companies that include Cognis and Henkel AG. More recently Dr. Trius has been a board member of Lonza Group AG since April 2013 and on the supervisory board at Altana AG since July 2012.
Kristiaan Nieuwenburg is a Partner and Head of EQT Equity Western Europe. He joined EQT Partners in March 2013. Nieuwenburg has an M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Delft University of Technology and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Prior to joining EQT Partners, he worked at IK Investment Partners in London 1999-2011, where he was partner and responsible for the firm’s Benelux investment activities. From 1995–1997, Nieuwenburg worked at Lehman Brothers in London.
Formerly he served as CFO at Dutch e-commerce firm RFS Holland Holding. Nieuwenburg is also a member of the Equity Partners Investment Committee.
Bert Janssens joined EQT Partners in September 2015.
Prior to joining EQT Partners, he worked at Venturebay, a start-up incubator, and BCG in Belgium, followed by eight years at Warburg Pincus in London, most recently as a Principal in their TMT and Business Services sector team.
Bert Janssens holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Mechanical and Mechatronical Engineering and a Postgraduate in Finance from the University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Jürgen Buchsteiner holds a Masters in International Business Studies from Saint Louis University, USA and a degree in Economics from Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.
Buchsteiner has over 20 years of experience in leading management positions in the chemical manufacturing and distribution industries. From 2000 to 2013, he was Chief Financial Officer and Member of the Executive Board of Brenntag AG, Germany. Prior to this, he served as Vice President, Finance and Investor Relations at Stinnes AG, Germany and as Vice President, Finance and Accounting at Hüls AG, Germany.
Kees Verhaar holds a Masters in Economics from the University of Amsterdam.
He is currently chairman of the supervisory boards at DRT, France and Avantium, Netherlands. He is also shareholder and chairman of the advisory boards at two companies of the TenCate Group, an international advanced materials company.
Verhaar has an in-depth knowledge of the specialty chemicals space. Between 2008 and 2015, he held the position as Chief Executive Officer and President of Arizona Chemical Company, LLC. Prior to that he served as President of the Epoxy & Coatings Division of Hexion Specialty Chemicals and has held senior management positions at chemicals companies spanning almost 30 years.
Dr. Alexandra Brand studied chemistry at the Technische Universität in Darmstadt, Germany, from 1990 to 1998 and completed her studies with a doctorate.
She is currently Chief Sustainability Officer at Syngenta. Prior to this appointment, Alexandra was Regional Director of Syngenta’s crop protection and seed operations across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Alexandra joined Syngenta in late 2015. Before joining Syngenta, Alexandra held various positions in the BASF Group, including senior vice president of its global Animal Nutrition business unit, vice president of the Global Marketing Pharma Ingredients unit as well as chief of staff for BASF’s chief executive officer.
Alexandra gained international experience through her role as director of BASF’s Sub Regional Operating Manager Intermediates in South Asia, with its headquarters in Mumbai, India. She began her professional career in global research at BASF.