the share purchase was negotiated between 1842 and 1844. Most of the shares were actually purchased by three subsidiaries of the Bank, to avoid causing a collapse in the Société Générale share price on the stock exchange. This system of crossholdings avoided dissipation of the Bank s shares and helped to ensure a stable shareholder base.

Looser banking relations (1845-1945)

Once Société Générale had managed to ease King William out as a shareholder, it kept banking relations with the Netherlands to a strict minimum, although there were strong trade flows between the two countries. The Bank also remained in contact with several private Dutch banks, especially from 1830 to 1870 at least with Determeyer, Weslingh & Zoon in Amsterdam.

From 1875-1914, when Société Générale de Belgique started to develop a network of sponsored banks abroad, it showed limited interest in the Dutch market. At first its cross- border initiatives were focused exclusively on France. In 1902, Société Générale also set up a sponsored bank in China, Banque Sino-Belge. This bank then opened branches in Egypt and London. In 1913 it changed its name, becoming Banque Belge pour l Étranger (BBE).

Banque Belge pour l Étranger had a branch in Rotterdam during the First World War. It was managed by A. Crichet. Given that Belgium was under occupation by a foreign army and that the Netherlands, maintaining neutral status, had stayed outside the conflict, the Rotterdam branch played an important role as a liaison office between the Société Générale Group and the rest of the world, especially with the BBE branch in London.

In the 1920s, Société Générale de Belgique endeavoured to develop its footprint abroad in two ways: setting up subsidiaries and branches, and taking stakes in local banks.

As regards the Netherlands, Société Générale chose to close down the Banque Belge pour l Étranger in Rotterdam and to work instead with Dutch banks. In 1921, it took a stake in the Bank voor Indië (in the Dutch East Indies) founded with a capital of 50 million guilders on the initiative of the Rotterdamsche Bankvereeniging, with the support of other major Dutch groups. The bank commenced operations on 1 January 1921 with a mission to develop trade relations between the Dutch colonies and Europe. Société Générale s involvement was short-lived and this shareholding was sold off three years later.

In 1922, Banque Centrale du Limbourg (founded in Hasselt in 1873) as one of the Belgian regional banks sponsored by Société Générale de Belgique, opened a branch in Maastricht in the Netherlands. Two years later, the Société Générale Group s presence in Dutch Limburg was reviewed in two phases. First of all, on 17 June 1924, Banque Centrale du Limbourg took over the business of Banque Meuse et Campine (founded in 1913), adding Meuse et Campine to the official name though the addition remained optional.

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