management buy-outs and export finance. At the same time, we were able to improve the quality of our services and we continued to benefit from the success of our multi- country/multi-bank electronic banking system . The year 1997 saw the Bank post profits of 27.3 million guilders.

The Paribas Group sells off its retail banking business

In 1997, Paribas sold Crédit du Nord and its subsidiaries, plus also Paribas Belgique, as part of the strategy of refocusing on the international merchant banking business. The Belgian subsidiary, which owned 30% of Paribas Nederland, was sold to an entity of the Bacob-Arco group96. Subsequently the remaining 70% of Paribas Nederland was sold to Bacob-Arco.

This decision to sell the subsidiary came as a huge blow to the Bank s staff, as Robert Costermans describes: Disbelief, despair, incomprehension and desolation reigned for several weeks at the Herengracht. The message we had to give to both clients and colleagues was a very painful one. The change of ownership put an abrupt end to the good times. At a meeting of all staff on 5 March 1998 everyone received a framed share in Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas N.V. as a farewell gift.

96. This was the Artesia Banking Corporation, a group acquired by Dexia in 2001, then by GE Capital in 2006.

THE SALE OF PARIBAS NEDERLAND PRESS ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE LEEUWARDER COURANT, AUGUST 6TH 1997