Fives' History  

Fives, 200 years of industrial progress... and personal journeys


The historical origins of Fives Group dates back to 1812 and coincides with the major industrial and economic world events.


Fives is responsible for some of the most impressive achievements of the industrial age, from the fi rst steam locomotives to the Alexandre III Bridge in Paris, the metal framework of the Orsay train station in Paris and the elevators for the Eiffel Tower.


Having become the Compagnie de Fives-Lille when Cail and Fives-Lille (two companies dating from the 19th

century) merged in 1958, the company later changed its name to Fives-Lille-Cail and Fives-Cail-Babcock following mergers and acquisitions, finally becoming Fives in 2007.


Fives' History in a few dates:


1812 : creation of Société des Anciens Établissements Cail, specialized in manufacturing equipment for the sugar industry.


1861 : founding of Parent-Schaken-Caillet et Cie. The company, specializing in the construction of steam locomotives,  built a plant in Fives and was renamed Compagnie de Fives-Lille in 1865.

The history of Société des Anciens Établissements Cail and Parent-Schaken-Caillet et Cie was punctuated by outstanding achievements: the first steam locomotives and railway installations, the Alexandre III bridge, metal frames for Gare d’Orsay and elevators in the Eiffel Tower for the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris. Their reputation spread throughout the world as they built locomotives for Russia, Brazil and China, bridges in Egypt, Russia, Romania and Portugal, and sugar plants in Brazil, Cuba, Argentina and Russia.



1953, Final assembly of a locomotive for the Brazilian market


1958 : the two companies merged to form Fives Lille-Cail.


1973 : the merger between Fives Lille-Cail and boilermaker Babcock-Atlantique gave rise to Fives-Cail Babcock (FCB). FCB consolidated and developed its most promising activities through a series of mergers and acquisitions in the fields of minerals, food processing, compressors, port handling equipment, aluminium and steel.



Aluminium smelter, fume treatment center, Sultanate of Oman


1980 : the group’s holding company, established in 1968, changed its name back to Compagnie de Fives-Lille. In addition to the FCB sub-group, it controlled Nordon (piping) and Pillard (combustion engineering) and other companies. The industrial conglomerate specialising in capital goods for industry rose to prominence as the Fives-Lille Group, the name adopted in 1983. In 1987, it acquired the Stein Heurtey sub-group, specialized in thermal equipment for the steel and glass industries.


1987-1996 : the Group underwent a major transformation by gradually refocusing on a few key sectors and shedding its manufacturing activities.


1997 : the Automotive division was set up and developed by taking control of the Cinetic group (automated handling systems) followed by several acquisitions in the field of automated assembly lines, washing systems for the parts machining process and engine part grinding machines.


2001 : following a take-over bid and subsequent squeeze out, Compagnie de Fives-Lille left the stock market and, in the first half of 2001, it parted company with Paribas of which it had been one of the main industrial assets for nearly twenty years. Since 2006, Charterhouse General Partners (VIII) Ltd, backed by Barclays Private Equity, has been the major shareholder in the Group.


2001-2007 : the Group stepped up its refocusing strategy and policy of growth through acquisitions (including Metrap, Rapidcharge, Landis, Setaram Engineering and Sandvik Sorting Systems). At the same time, the Group was re-organized into divisions covering the metal (aluminium and steel), automotive and logistics, cement, energy and sugar sectors, while promoting cross-company actions of common interest. In particular, it strengthened its international network by opening representative offices and setting up subsidiaries in strategic parts of the world.





2007 :  change of name and visual identity: Fives-Lille Group became Fives and, under this new trade name, it is confirming its position as a key player in sustainable industrial development.


Fives © 2012