Nationale Handelsbank thinks about an alliance in Asia with BNP forerunner BNCI

In his book Banken, bankiers en hun fusies (Banks, Bankers and Bank Mergers), Dr D.C.J. van der Werf mentions that Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l Industrie (BNCI), which in 1966 merged with the Comptoir National d Escompte de Paris to form BNP, had in the 1960s envisaged a partnership with Nationale Handelsbank (NHB) with a view to winning market share in Asia. At that time NHB was already established in Vietnam and Cambodia.

A letter of 25 March 1961 from BNCI addressed to the Rotterdamsche Bank confirms that BNCI had indeed suggested a form of commercial partnership in the marketplaces of Saigon, Phnom-Penh and Hong Kong, cities in which the two banks already had branches. Moreover, a memo written in French in February 1962 by Nationale Handelsbank, which was very probably sent to BNCI, speaks of the possibility of bringing together all the Asian businesses of Nationale Handelsbank and Rotterdamsche Bank in a joint subsidiary, in which other European banks could be invited to take stakes.

For reasons that are unknown to us, BNCI never took this proposal any further.

BNP s European strategy 1960-1970

In 1966 a merger between the Comptoir National d Escompte de Paris and the Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l Industrie gave rise to Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP). Faced with the increasing penetration of US banks in the main European markets and their highly competitive positions, BNP oriented its strategy towards cooperation with other European banks.

This is how the Bank came to participate in the founding of Société Financière Européenne (SFE) which initially comprised Dresdner Bank, Barclays Bank, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Algemene Bank Nederland97 and Bank of America. The mission of this consortium bank, founded with a capital of 37.8 million French francs, was to foster link-ups between companies based in Europe and to contribute, either through debt financing or shareholdings, to investment in European businesses.

BNP expanded its business across Europe in the 1970s, opening new branches in Belgium, and taking over Banque commerciale du Luxembourg in the Grand Duchy. In 1974 BNP became the first French bank to set up in Ireland. New offices and branches were also opened in Milan, Rome, Lisbon and Oslo.

BNP plans to open a branch in the Netherlands

In 1970 BNP s department which coordinated the foreign branches and subsidiaries (DRAFEX) was studying the possibility of setting up in the Netherlands. However, a note dated late 1975, providing an analysis of the Dutch market, does not hide the difficulties

97. In 1991, Algemene Bank Nederland merged with Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank to form ABN AMRO Bank.


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