Despite the high price demanded by the US PAEF and ECC funds, Générale de Banque pursued the negotiations, given that the acquisition of a bank in Poland was of strategic interest to the Belgian bank. International competition to acquire Polish banks was inten- sifying and attractive opportunities were becoming increasingly rare.

Finally, on 23 February 1999, Générale de Banque completed the purchase of 58.8% of the shares held by the two US funds, thus raising its stake to 68.5%.

Following this transaction, Générale de Banque planned to launch a public takeover bid for the remaining PPAB stock on the market. However the Polish regulatory authorities were reluctant to give their consent and it was not until November of that year that the bank received the go-ahead to launch its public offer, under which the Belgians then succeeded in acquiring 98% of the PPAB stock101. Joseph S. Conti, a US citizen, remained Chairman of the Board of Directors ad interim.

In the meantime, Générale de Banque had merged with a number of other financial insti- tutions, including the Belgian ASLK-CGER (General Savings & Pension Fund), to form Fortis Banque. In December 1999, a proposal was put forward to change the name PPAB to Fortis Bank Polska, and the name change came into force in 2000. That same year the bank left Krakow for Warsaw, setting up in temporary headquarters in the Polish capital s Marynarska Street.

Fortis Bank Polska s progress from 1999 to 2007

0

250

500

750

1,000

1,250

1,500

1,750

2,000

[FTE]

12-200706-200712-200606-200612-200506-2005

907 991

1,175

1,389 1,524

1,695 1,839

E S T IM

A T E D

P L A N N E D

Encouraged by its parent bank, Fortis Bank Polska (FBP) set out to establish itself as a major player in the Polish economy. It has been estimated that prior to 2008 the Bank was growing three times as fast as the Polish banking sector as a whole.

101. In 2005, the Polish Central Bank asked Fortis Banque to reduce its stake from 99.1% to 75%, on the grounds that 80% of Polish banks were now in foreign hands.

194 T H E O R I G I N S A N D F O R M AT I O N O F B N P PA R I B A S B A N K P O L S K A