of such an initiative. The high concentration98 of the banking system there left very little room for medium-sized banks. In addition, the French client segment was firmly in the hands of Paribas and Suez. The author of the report estimated that the target clientele market consisted of the top 500 Dutch companies that were trading on the international markets and suggested that the emphasis in terms of the range of products and services offered should be placed on external trade finance and forex. The future would however demonstrate the importance of treasury services and also capital market operations.

It was vital for BNP, whose European coverage was incomplete, to establish itself in the Netherlands, given the important position the country occupied in world trade. In addition, opening in Amsterdam would enable the bank to create synergies with BNP Brussels, plus the newly-opened Frankfurt branch, Germany being the Netherlands largest trading partner.

In 1975 a firm decision was taken to open a branch in the Netherlands. In November 1976 the bank requested a banking licence, which was granted on 3 December of that year.

BNP Netherlands: branch openings and business activities

The BNP Amsterdam branch opened in October 1977, with Jacques Rambosson as manager. Business focused on major companies and the branch had a forex trading room which was run by Anton Ferwerda. Two years later, a branch was opened in Rotterdam with a view to growing the international trade finance business. This new branch, managed by Jean Wehner, was inaugurated in November by the BNP President Jacques Calvet.

The Amsterdam branch was a great success. In an annotation to the report on an Internal Audit carried out in September and October 1979, Jacques Calvet wrote: In the Netherlands Jacques Rambosson has given proof once again of his exceptional qualities in running business, in imagination and in managing small teams. In 1979, the Dutch branches, with a headcount of 41 staff, made a profit of 5 million guilders.

Business grew and operating profit reached 10 million guilders in 1985. The trade finance business was especially noteworthy due to the size of the country s import-export business. A breakdown of the Bank s revenues showed an equal split between loans to major firms, trade finance and the trading room.

The Bank was run by a general manager (Pierre Vermenouze), a commercial manager (Jean Proust), a treasurer (Peter van der Velden) and a company secretary (Christian Morio).

98. In 1975, Mees & Hope was taken over by Algemene Bank Nederland and Pierson Heldring & Pierson was acquired by AMRO Bank.

118 T H E H I S T O R Y O F B N P PA R I B A S I N T H E N E T H E R L A N D S