Our history: The VINCI Energies Group through the years
Our history is above all one of people and energies coming together to construct a top-level group in the energy and information technology sectors. VINCI Energies is like a river formed over time by the confluence of multiple streams. It has followed its course for more than two centuries and has gradually grown through its history due to the businesses that have joined it. The pioneers prepared the way for the entrepreneurs who today continue the human adventure that is our heritage. And it is the story of this adventure that we want to tell.
Jean-André Lepaute founds a company in his own name. As horologist to the court of Louis XV, he constructs precision pendulums for royal estates and most of the observatories of Europe. He is responsible for numerous inventions with applications primarily in astronomy or optics for the navy. One of these innovations is his invention in 1780 of the first horizontal clock using parallel workings. The Lepaute company much later expands into the field of electronics after the Second World War. This branch of its activities is acquired by CGE in 1960
During the period of urban lighting development, Jean and Chabrié establish their company and gain the contract to supply candles and firewood for the Palais Bourbon in Paris (where the National Assembly is hosted). At the end of the century, the engineer Albert Bouchon joins the company, which is then renamed “Mors Jean & Bouchon”. This is also where André Citroën worked.
Candles give way to gaslights. Clémençon creates the first lighting control units for Parisian theatres.
The Lacarrière company provides maintenance for street lamps and all public lighting throughout Paris. The magnificent Parisian lighting fascinates all of Europe, which leads to Paris being known as the City of Light. At the end of the century, Lacarrière merges with SDEL, a company created by Charles Saunier and Maurice Duval.
The second half of the 19th century is marked by the arrival of electricity. Innovations flourish and many companies are created, including Louis Mors in France, and G+H and Nickel in Germany. The arrival of the automobile sees the birth of the Société Anonyme d’Electricité et d’Automobile (Electricity and Automobile Limited Company), founded by the son of Louis Mors in 1896.
Pierre Azaria founds CGE (Compagnie Générale d’Electricité – General Electricity Company), a holding company aimed at running electricity industries and companies. Fifteen years later, CGE becomes CGEE, the direct ancestor of Cegelec.
At the beginning of the 20th century, electrical installation companies such as Garczynski-Traploir and Fournié-Grospaud flourish throughout France. In 1906, Ernest Tunzini founds a heating company at Versailles. A year later, Charles Saunier and Maurice Duval create the firm Saunier Duval et Compagnie (the future SDEL) at Montreuil, specialising in lighting services for civil service departments. In Great Britain, Herbert Beesley and Charles Lee found the firm Lee Beesley.
The Belle Epoque period of economic prosperity witnesses a decisive turning point towards modern times. That context of success and expansion is shattered by the First World War.
At the end of hostilities, everything has to be rebuilt. Under the aegis of the French government, 7000 rural homes are connected to electricity by 1919. The same year in Sweden, Emil Lundgren decides to found his company, specialised in electric works. The 1920s also sees the creation of the companies Garczynski-Traploir at Le Mans and Fournié-Grospaud at Tarbes.
CGEE starts to seek prospects outside France and establishes operations in Tunisia and Algeria, as well as in Belgium.
France discovers air conditioning due to the work of Ernest Tunzini, and Louis Santerne opens a modest workshop. Both Tunzini and Santerne grow to join the ranks of France’s great companies. The Swiss company Kriegel et Schaffner has similar success; their electric works company later becomes the Etavis Group.
The Alsthom company (now spelled Alstom) is created in Alsace. Electricity has by this time become the preferred energy source for French industry. This requires the electrical equipment necessary for smooth functioning and Alsthom positions itself in the construction of motors, turbines, and soldering equipment.
After the Second World War, it is necessary to rebuild throughout Europe. Companies set out to reconstruct housing. In 1948 the Phibor company is founded. It provides supplies for the many housing projects which begin to spring up in the Parisian suburbs. During these years of reconstruction neighbouring countries also undergo development: In Morocco, CGEE founds a holding company of electrical businesses (La Compagnie Chérifienne d’entreprises électriques).
Modernity, new construction, and industrial development are the spearhead of the 1950s in France and as well as the rest of Europe. In Romania, for example, the infrastructure and service sector are directed by TIAB, which starts its activity at this time. Distinguished by a new dynamism, the construction of the nuclear industry is undertaken by SDEL, Tunzini, Comsip Entreprise, G+H, and Nickel.
Exchanges increase and companies now systematically seek prospects abroad: CGEE thus establishes a presence in South America, in Africa, and in Portugal.
At the start of the 1970s, the electrical installation market undergoes a profound change. CGEE merges with the electrical divisions of Alsthom and SGE, the future VINCI, to create CGEE Alsthom.
The Lepaute company, whose ancestor was the horologist to the court of Louis XV and creator of the great public clocks of the period, then also joins CGEE Alsthom.
The companies Mors, Jean et Bouchon, Garczynski-Traploir, and Fournié-Grospaud, join to form a group that becomes GTIE in 1984.
Following the first oil price shock, the world is in crisis. Due to dynamic results, CGEE Alsthom creates a subsidiary in Brazil and gains sole responsibility to equip EDF’s nuclear power generation plants with control systems.
For its part, in 1974 COMSIP Entreprise signs the Orenbourg contract in the USSR, to develop the largest natural gas field in the world. Afterwards, with the development of computer systems, Comsip Entreprise sets up the real-time monitoring system for Ariane rockets.
VINCI Energies Academy is launched.
In Germany, due to an initial facility management contract with the US army for its military bases, the SKE company is born.
In the 1980s, CGEE Alsthom increases its contracts in Africa, and then brings COMSIP Entreprise into the Group to be able to grow further in the petrochemical and space sectors.
CGEE Alsthom experiences a strategic change of direction: The General Electric Company acquires a stake in the group and transfers control of its industrial monitoring activities to it. CGEE Alsthom then adopts the new name Cegelec. This is also the period when GTIE extends its development outside France, starting with the UK and then the Netherlands.
GTIE makes its first acquisitions in the UK and the Netherlands. SDEL expands into Germany.
GTIE, SDEL, and Santerne form the new electrical works division of SGE.
The advancement in the field of maintenance, the promising growth of offers related to telecommunication networks, and the development of information processing constitute opportunities for the development of GTIE.
The Axians and Graniou brands, dedicated to telecommunications, are founded. They are followed by Actemium, Citeos, Omexom, and Opteor. GTIE, while continuing to fully serve its local clients, also chooses a global approach for some of its businesses.
When SGE and GTM merge in 2000 to give birth to VINCI, GTIE absorbs the thermo-mechanical business units from the Group (Lefort-Francheteau, Saga, Tunzini, Nickel, G+H, and TPI).
Throughout the first decade the Group extends its development to new countries: Sweden, Spain, Eastern Europe, Portugal, Switzerland, and Italy.
The Axians and Actemium networks expand into the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Slovakia.
GTIE takes the name VINCI Energies to gain recognition as a subsidiary of VINCI.
The Group begins its expansion to Central and Eastern Europe, with acquisitions in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania.
The merger with Cegelec expands the leadership of VINCI Energies. This major event is significant as it permits the Group to build up its international presence. At the same time, VINCI confers VINCI Energies with the entire range of facility management activities and maintenance services of the Group. The combination of these previously dispersed business lines generates a new impetus. With the arrival of Faceo, which was formerly associated with Cegelec, these activities are integrated under the name VINCI Facilities, a unit with operations in 20 European countries.
In the following two years, other businesses join the Group, such as GA Gruppe in Germany, specialising in energy and telecommunications infrastructures.
VINCI Energies also turns toward Asia, with the acquisition of VAES in India, and the creation of multiple business units associated with Actemium in China.
New sources of energy, the boom in mobile telecommunications, and energy conservation are all challenges faced by the Group in a world where the needs for different types of energy, for infrastructures of all sorts, and for information technology have never been so great. Its business units are at the heart of sustainable development issues. They are creating the “green solutions” of tomorrow that will dominate this third millennium.
Year after year, VINCI Energies pursues its expansion, via both organic growth and a strong acquisition policy. The acquisition in October 2014 of Imtech ICT, an information and communication technology specialist operating in several European countries, and Electrix, a major player in electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure in Oceania, is in keeping with the Group’s “multi-local” positioning.
Over the last few years, VINCI Energies has developed, diversified and expanded its business. The Group’s revenue rose from €3.5 billion in 2005 to €10.2 billion in 2015. This spectacular growth was fuelled by two drivers.
Internal growth, by proposing new services and innovations to our customers, while also accompanying them into the most dynamic markets such as China and Africa.
Growth by acquisition, thanks to a series of acquisitions in the last years, including Orteng and APX in 2015.
In 2016, VINCI Energies acquires J&P Richardson, a leading Australian electrical contracting and engineering company, and boosts its positions in the Australian energy and transport infrastructure services market.
Digital transformation and energy transition are the challenges faced by the Group in a changing world.