Red Bull fans may not know the name Brenntag, but the German chemical distribution giant plays a key role in the making of the caffeine-packed beverage. From China, Brenntag sources all of the ingredients other than water and sugar that go into Red Bull. And while the Brenntag brand may never become part of the consumer vocabulary, management does have big plans for building name recognition among Asian businesses. Brenntag has a strong reputation in other parts of the world. With sales of about Euro4.3 billion (HK$41.18 billion) last year, the company is the global market leader, holding the No1 spot in Europe and Latin America and the No3 place in the United States. It reached that position through organic growth and a series of acquisitions, which saw it gain 40 different companies in 10 years. Brenntag now operates in 300 locations in 47 countries worldwide. 'We believe very much in the relationship between market share and profitability,' said Klaus Engel, chief executive of Brenntag. 'Because we have developed a leading position in the main markets, we are able to extract a good return for our shareholder and superior services for our customers and suppliers.' Brenntag's services cover a wide range of needs for manufacturers who use chemicals in their products, including sourcing, storage, repackaging and just-in-time delivery as major elements of supply chain management. 'We deliver a lot of value-added services beyond the buying and selling of bulk chemicals, like mixing and blending and technical application services, especially in the area of speciality chemicals,' Mr Engel said. The company co-operates on a worldwide blue chip supplier base in all of the key markets, so Brenntag is able to find the right solution for each customer. 'Size is not a value in itself, but our global network is,' he said. 'We want to be a chemical distributor serving customers with a one-stop-shop for speciality and industry chemicals.' Brenntag has had a presence in China for almost 10 years. An exclusive sourcing agent in Beijing ensures superior relationships to leading fine chemical producers in the mainland. In addition to its sourcing capabilities the company is considering an additional representative office in Beijing or Shanghai. In Southeast Asia the company pursues various projects to set up distribution joint ventures as a precursor to a China business, once legal and financial questions have been settled. As an indication of the importance of the Chinese market, Mr Engel notes that China makes more than 50 per cent of the world's vitamin C, one of Brenntag's portfolio products. Chinese companies use better technology than producers in the US and Europe, which is fuelling demand for Chinese vitamin C and other key ingredients like citric acid and Aspartame. Already, Brenntag sources 50,000 tonnes of various chemicals for export from China, while bringing 10,000 tonnes into Asia. The company is analysing different market segments, such as petrochemicals and speciality chemicals, to figure out the import/export mix for each one. 'We are linking global markets as a facilitator of the flow of goods,' Mr Engel said. Whatever Brenntag's final business strategy for China will be, one aspect of the company's operation will be the same all over the world: equal standards in safety, health and environmental protection, which Brenntag regards as an integral part of its business - so much so that it helps train large companies like Exxon on chemical hazards and handling. Mr Engel's long-term vision for all stakeholders - suppliers, customers and employees - is to choose Brenntag as a preferred partner due to its superior services and market opportunities. He underlines that although Brenntag is headquartered in Germany, it appreciates cultural variety - 95 per cent of the workforce speaks a language other than German. 'Brenntag welcomes cultural diversity. I would like to see more Asian people in our group,' he said.