The Borneo Company Ltd – 1856 Hong Kong branch opened

James Chan: The Borneo Company Ltd had a very interesting history. In 1856 it apparently opened an office in Hong Kong and it would be interesting to know more about the company’s operations here.

Rudi Butt’s fascinating Hong Kong’s First blog (linked below) contains this:

Borneo Company Ltd - William Adamson HK office, HKfirstblogspot

This summary of the company comes from wikipedia: The Borneo Company Ltd formed in 1856, is one of the oldest companies based in East Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah)

The company, of 25 Mincing Lane, was registered in London in June 1856 with a capital of £60,000. Its directors were Robert Henderson (of R.& J.Henderson, Glasgow merchants), John Charles Templer (friend of James Brooke), James Dyce Nicol, John Smith, Francis Richardson, and John Harvey (the latter two of MacEwan & Co. in Singapore). Its first manager in Sarawak was a Dane, Ludvig Verner Helms, who had been trading there on his own account since 1852. Initially, the company was given rights in return for royalties to the Sarawak treasury to “take over and work Mines, Ores, Veins or Seams of all descriptions of Minerals in the Island of Borneo, and to barter or sell the produce of such workings”. The commercial hub of the company was, however, in Singapore, and businesses were soon also opened in Thailand, and then Indonesia and Hong Kong. (2)

JC: UK based “Inchcape’s growth was largely due to a series of mergers and acquisitions, including the merger with the Borneo Company Ltd  in 1967, which almost doubled the company’s size by adding Hong Kong, Malaysia, Canada, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand,” to its operations. (3)

Currently in Hong Kong, Inchcape is an exclusive importer and retailer for Toyota / Lexus, Hino, Jaguar, Land Rover, Ford and Daihatsu. When combined, these franchises regularly achieve around 40 per cent of market share. Crown Motors have held the Toyota franchise since 1966.

This article was first posted on 6th February 2015.


  1. Longhurst, H (1956) The Borneo Story: The First Hundred Years of the Borneo Company Limited
  2. The Borneo Company Ltd: The Origins of a Nineteenth Century Networked Multinational, H Cox & S Metcalfe, University of Worcester, UK, 1999
  6. – provides details about William Adamson, Manager of Borneo Company Ltd in Hong Kong
  7. Borneo Company Ltd – AIM25

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