In 1964, Algemene Bank Nederland (ABN) came into being as a result of a merger between NHM and Twentsche Bank. The same year the merger of Rotterdamsche Bank and Amsterdamsche Bank gave birth to the Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank (AMRO). ABN and AMRO merged in 1991 to become ABN AMRO.
A new wave of mergers and acquisitions affecting the medium and smaller sized banks occurred during the 1960s and 1970s. This was brought about by their need to expand within the European Economic Community and in order to meet the new, more demanding capital requirements set by the central bank. The oil crisis of 1973 and the ensuing economic crises, accompanied by high inflation, reinforced this trend. After absorbing several smaller banks and commission houses, Bank Mees & Hope9 and Pierson, Heldring & Pierson, the only remaining bank that was owned and operated by a partnership both of them known for their multiple expertise, international orientation and entrepreneurial spirit were taken over in 1975 by ABN and AMRO Bank respectively. It was intended that they were to operate independently from their respective parent but this situation changed radically when, in 1991, ABN and AMRO Bank merged to become ABN AMRO Bank. The two daughter entities were then combined into MeesPierson and eventually sold to the Belgo-Dutch banking and insurance group Fortis in 1997.
The concept of bancassurance was introduced into the Netherlands with the merger of the Nederlandsche Middenstandsbank, state-owned Postbank, and the insurance company Nationale Nederlanden to form the Internationale Nederlanden Groep (ING) in 1991. The mutual savings banks underwent a major restructuring as well. Clusters of savings banks ended up under the umbrellas of Fortis, ING and SNS REAAL Groep.
Over the years, ABN AMRO, ING and Fortis had also been pursuing further aggressive acquisition programmes abroad. When it became clear that ABN AMRO was not able to meet its objectives, it was attacked by a hedge fund, who called for a breakup of the bank. Finally, in July 2007 the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Fortis and Banco Santander made a successful bid, and the bank was dismantled. In the deal RBS obtained ABN AMRO s domestic and international wholesale operations, Banco Santander acquired subsidiaries in Brazil and Italy, while Fortis took over the remaining Dutch and Belgian operations. The dismantling process had barely begun when the financial crisis of 2008 broke out, with dramatic consequences for RBS and Fortis, the upshot being that both banks had to be bailed out. The Dutch government nationalised the Dutch parts of Fortis10.
On the banking side the government then merged what used to be Fortis Bank Nederland and MeesPierson with the domestic banking business of the old ABN AMRO Bank. This new entity, also named ABN AMRO Bank, is at this moment still in state ownership but proving profitable and a stock exchange flotation is envisaged in 2015. ING, one of the
9. Bank Mees & Hope was formed from a merger of Hope & Co., and R. Mees & Zn in 1962, plus a third component, Nederlandse Overzee Bank (NOB) in 1968.
10. The Fortis assets in Belgium and Luxembourg were initially rescued by the governments of Belgium and Luxembourg. They have since been successfully privatised and the business now operates as BNP Paribas Fortis.
38 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