Regarding the 1925 figures, the report notes palpable progress compared with previous years, despite a marked slowdown in business. Up to 1929, these reports lead us to understand that the branch s results continued to improve.

From 1930 on, the situation changed however, and business activity at the branch declined, being affected, even more so than Headquarters, by the economic conditions.

In 1935, the branch made a profit of 27,766 guilders (286,235 French francs). In comparison, the Geneva branch made a profit of 506,313 French francs and the Brussels branch 677,141 French francs.

In 1937, Amsterdam made a profit of 1,953,098 French francs compared with the 4,137,269 French francs made by the Geneva branch.

Evolution of the business model and strategy (1945-1968)

The 1945-1968 period was one of profound transformation. The Amsterdam branch was expanding its commercial banking business, setting up specialised subsidiaries, taking stakes in companies, and it also opened again an office in Rotterdam. This change in the branch s business model partly reflected the evolving business of the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, whose role in industry had taken on a strategic dimension which, as Eric Bussière notes, was extended across Europe due to the support it gave to the local establishment of French companies. However we can hardly fail to be somewhat surprised to see the branch becoming involved, from 1953 onwards, in consumer credit. This independent initiative was probably fostered by the specific features of the Dutch market, foreshadowing the amazing commercial expansion of the years which followed. However the branch s business between 1945 and 1968 was never very profitable.

Economic background

The economic situation in the Netherlands remained extremely difficult during the early post-war years. This was the last country in Western Europe to be liberated, and had suffered a great deal from looting and destruction during the war. The post-war effort concentrated on the reconstruction of industrial plants that had been devastated by the conflict, and on draining the polders which had been flooded.

Trading with Germany had almost completely vanished and this, coupled with Indonesia s move to declare independence in 1945, made it particularly difficult for the country to get moving again. In addition currency controls were in place and it was forbidden to arrange any foreign issues in the Netherlands. This led the Amsterdam branch to take the decision in 1950 to develop its commercial banking services.

92 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