BNP Paribas: the forging of a top-rank banking group

Michel Pébereau had a vision of building a competitive European banking force. Accordingly, he made successive overtures to a number of French banks, with a view to forming alliances with them but his proposals failed to convince potential partners. In 1999, when plans to merge Société Générale and Paribas were announced, he seized the opportunity to launch a daring takeover bid, a first in France, which took the Paris stock exchange by surprise. Under what it called the SBP Project , BNP made simultaneous unsolicited bids for Société Générale and Paribas based on share-exchange offers. Following a six month takeover battle, BNP acquired control of Paribas. However, the French central bank, the Banque de France, refused to authorise BNP to take a controlling interest in Société Générale.

The subsequent period witnessed the progressive formation of a leader in the European banking sphere. The smooth, even-handed integration of the staff of the two constituent banks ensured a consistent management approach, and the best systems and services from each bank were retained. The creation of the BNP Paribas brand, capitalising on the two traditions, with a new logo, and a new brand signature the bank for a changing world created a strong international profile.

The world was indeed changing, and BNP Paribas was well aware of the fact. The Bank s senior management was wary of making new acquisitions at any price and waited patiently to find the right partners and to develop a balanced business model. Several takeovers, notably under the aegis of Baudouin Prot after he was appointed CEO in 2003, mark step changes in the size of the Group: 2001, BNP Paribas acquired the total capital of its US subsidiary Bank of the West, based in the western United States and in Hawaii; 2002, Consors was absorbed into Cortal, bringing extra specialist financial expertise; 2005, Türk Ekonomi Bankasi (TEB) joined the Group; 2006, BNP Paribas took over Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), the number six Italian bank, thus opening a second domestic market in Europe; 2009, the major operation which saw the acquisition of Fortis Banque in Belgium and its subsidiary BGL in Luxembourg added two more domestic markets to the Group.

New chapters to complement older Group history

These years saw the Group family tree expanding, as new entities joined, bringing their own rich history. In the story of Fortis1 we can read the entire history of Belgian industrialisation. The BNP Paribas Group Belgian subsidiary started life as the Algemeene Nederlandsche Maatschappij, founded in 1822 by royal decree of William I, king of the United Kingdom

1. The Dutch history of BNP Paribas Fortis is detailed in Annexe 7.

22 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