A city which has long owned the world s trade Amsterdam as seen by a French traveller in 1894

The streets, almost all of which run alongside the canals, are nicely cobbled and have sidewalks. Nothing can match the splendour of some of these streets, where the houses, painted in various colours, are furbished with the most luxurious materials. The numerous shops, in which are heaped up the products of East and West, proclaim the wealth of a city that has for a long time now owned the world s trade.

In Dubois, Amand: Les pêcheurs de l île de Marken et la Hollande pittoresque (The Marken Island Fishermen and Picturesque Holland), E. Ardant, 1894.

Paris headquarters repeatedly thought about reorganising the branch. It even considered changing the branch s status into that of an independent financial institution in which Paris would remain the major shareholder. There are a number of indications that Paris was dissatisfied with the branch s results, especially during the last ten years of this period.

However, an analysis of the capital markets transactions carried out by the Amsterdam branch shows that it played a full part in the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas network of businesses and alliances, most of the time alongside the major Dutch merchant banks and securities houses, even though the financial results failed to match the status which the branch enjoyed in the market.

Branch activities

Deals on the securities markets constituted the major part of the branch s business and in this role the branch participated in numerous bond issues and stock exchange listings. Issuers were both state entities the central government, the city of Amsterdam, other local authorities and polder-boards and also Dutch and foreign companies. For some transactions, the branch dealt on its own account, holding the issued securities itself. While securities formed the core of its activity, the branch also made loans to individual persons and companies. These loans were almost always guaranteed by collateral in the form of bonds issued by state entities. All transactions were subject to agreement by the bank s Board of Directors in Paris.

The branch functioned as a Dutch securities house, participating fully in the Amsterdam financial community to which it was closely linked through the members of its Advisory Council50. These members were chosen from among the most eminent and influencial businessmen in the market.

Thus Maurits Cornelis van Hall, the first head of the branch (1872-1896) and a member of the Advisory Council from 1899 to 1900, also served as a substitute member of the supervisory board of the Nederlandsche Handel- Maatschappij (1880-1884), was a member of the management committee of Vereeniging voor den Effectenhandel (the asssociation which ran the Amsterdam stock exchange), vice president of the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce (1883-1890), and a member of the Senate (1896-1900). Balthazar Heldring, a member of the Advisory Council from 1902 to 1907, was president of Nederlandsche Handel- Maatschappij from 1900 to 1907. Another important member of the Advisory Council was Cornelis Hendricus van Tienhoven who in 1897 was appointed director of Nederlandsche Bank, the Netherlands central bank.

50. See the list of members of the Advisory Council in Annex II.

62 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