Secondly, Banque Centrale du Limbourg sold its Maastricht branch to the Limburgsche Bankvereeniging in exchange for 300,000 guilders worth of shares. The Limburgsche also took over the business of the limited liability company E. Philips & Co s Bank in Maastricht, in which the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij held a controlling interest. The Limburgsche Bankvereeniging developed a network of nine branches and offices in Dutch Limburg, in Heerlen, Valkenburg, Beek, Sittard and other towns. It was also a member of Société Générale de Belgique s Union des Banques de Province (Union of Provincial Banks) until it was liquidated in 1932. Limburgsche Bankvereeniging was then taken over by N.V. Geldersche Credietvereeniging, in all probability after Société Générale had withdrawn from the business.

In 1935, mixed banks were outlawed and Société Générale de Belgique moved its deposit banking business into a new subsidiary, Banque de la Société Générale de Belgique. This institution absorbed all the regional banks which up to then had been sponsored by Société Générale de Belgique. Société Générale s international banking network was also thoroughly reviewed and it had zero presence in the Netherlands during the crisis years.

Initiatives in the Benelux countries (1945-1957)

The Benelux Treaty was the result of negotiations that took place between the Belgian and Dutch governments, which took refuge in London during the Second World War. On 5 September 1944, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg signed a customs union agreement. The treaty was ratified mid-1947 and came into force early in 1948. It did away with customs duties on goods and services traded between the three member countries and unified tariffs on imports from third countries.

The Benelux Treaty negotiations had a substantial impact on the growth of commercial and financial relations between the three countries. It was against this background that we should see two initiatives which the Banque de la Société Générale de Belgique (BSGB) took in the aftermath of the war: the takeover in 1947 of Brussels-based Comptoir Belgo- Hollandais/Belgisch-Hollandsch Effectenkantoor; and the 1954 move to take a stake in Handel Maatschappij H. Albert de Bary & Co.

In July 1947, BSGB took over the Brussels branch of the Rotterdamsche Bankvereeniging. This branch was founded in 1939 under the name of Comptoir Belgo-Hollandais/Belgisch- Hollandsch Effectenkantoor. Initially it was an independent limited liability company, with capital of 10 million Belgian francs, specialising in the securities business. Its headquarters were at 35 rue Royale in Brussels, just a few steps away from the Société Générale de Belgique building. It was subsequently taken over in 1946 by the Rotterdamsche Bankvereeniging, which sold off the assets to BSGB the following year. BSGB s Managing Director, F. Puissant-Baeyens, justified this purchase of a branch of a Dutch bank by the fact that negotiations were taking place at that moment for an economic union between

174 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