From 1950 onwards, seeing the poor profitability from a business model which originally was basically founded on capital markets activities, the Bank decided to build up its commercial banking business. It was against this background that on 1 April 1957 it opened the office in Rotterdam.85

In addition, the bank took shareholdings in companies, which was of course perfectly in line with the tradition of industry investments made by Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, but represented a new venture for the Amsterdam branch. In 1949, the Bank took a 27% stake in card-sorting and -punching machine manufacturer Bullatec and in 1953, purchased shares of an unknown value in Koster s Kaas Industrie en Handel Maatschappij, a cheese exporting company, today known as Royal Friesland Campina, the largest agricultural cooperative in Europe, which also has extensive interests in France.

The investment in Bullatec warrants some explanation. The Compagnie des Machines Bull, which was at the time one of the world s largest manufacturers of data-processing equipment, embarked on a policy of international expansion. Pierre Mounier-Kuhn86 explains the creation of Bullatec: In 1948, Bull took control of Kamatec in the Netherlands. This was a company founded in the 1920s by the Rotterdamsche Bankvereeniging. Led by two engineers, Van Duyl and Stuivenberg, this small company patented and built several punch-card machines, notably a fast-action sorting machine. The Amsterdam branch took a stake worth 325,000 guilders in the newly- founded company, re-named Bullatec after the Bull takeover, which was capitalised at 1,200,000 guilders. This shareholding was sold off in 1970, generating a sizeable profit. One explanation for the deal may be the fact that on the eve of the Second World War, the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas had become the principal banker to Bull and was therefore keen to help it grow. As Eric Bussière recalls: The Bank contributed directly to this success through the loans it granted and the shareholdings it took in subsidiaries such as Bullatec in the Netherlands. 87

In 1953, N.V. Algemene Crediet en Discontering Maatschappij (Alcredis) was set up with the mission of financing hire-purchase sales of goods and took over the business of the Financierings Maatschappij in Utrecht. The branch subscribed 100% of the capital of 100,000 guilders. Though it may surprise the reader to see the Amsterdam branch of the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas launching into the consumer credit business, this diversification was nevertheless in line with what was happening at that time in the Dutch financial markets, for it was in fact in 1953 that consumer credit first appeared in the Netherlands88. Thereafter other Dutch banks moved to take over consumer credit

85. The Rotterdam branch was opened at 36 Van Vollenhovenstraat.

86. In Un exportateur dynamique mais vulnérable : la Compagnie des Machines Bull (1948-1964). In: Histoire, Economie et Société, 1995 n° 4, p. 643-665.

87. In Bussière, Eric, Paribas, Europe and the World 1872-1992, Fonds Mercator, Antwerp, 1992. p 168

88. It was also in 1953 that Jacques de Fouchier, future Paribas President, created the electrical appliance hire-purchase specialist Compagnie pour le financement des équipements électro-ménagers (Cetelem), which later became a BNP Paribas subsidiary.

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