T H E H I S T O R Y O F A G L O B A L F I N A N C I A L G R O U P

BNP was now up and running and in pole position to serve the needs both of companies in need of financing and of people setting up homes. The bank helped to open up banking services to the mass market by opening hundreds of local branches, was one of several banks to offer the Carte Bleue payment card, and also expanded its international net- work. Its advertising campaign Votre argent m intéresse ( To put it plainly, I want your money ), launched in 1973 in the daring spirit of BNCI, broke the French taboo on talking about money and still remains today the best-remembered slogan of all bank advertising in France. That was also the year when the Group s sponsorship of the French Open tennis tournament was launched. This relationship proved to have a bright future and has expanded through the years far beyond the Roland Garros stadium to become a partner- ship with all forms of tennis all over the world.

1966 also saw ties between Paribas and Compagnie Bancaire strengthened. Formed in 1959, the Compagnie comprised several specialised finance companies which had been set up from 1946 onwards by Jacques de Fouchier, a visionary and charismatic entre- preneur. Among these were Cetelem, founded in 1953 as a consumer finance company, UCB, which specialised in real estate finance; and later, in 1973, Cardif, an insurance company which had developed new kinds of products and distribution channels. Jacques de Fouchier was later to become Chairman of Paribas, injecting an extra dimension of innovation and enterprise into the bank. In 1968 Paribas took advantage of the new rules authorising link-ups between merchant banks and deposit-taking banks to acquire control of Crédit du Nord, after first making an unsuccessful takeover bid for the Crédit Industriel et Commercial Group.

Nationalisations and privatisations

In 1982, the new Socialist government fully nationalised BNP, whose staff had been allowed to subscribe equity in the bank from 1973 onwards. Paribas shareholders were shocked to discover that it too was to be taken into State ownership for the first time. Nevertheless, the 1980s proved to be a period of deregulation and financial innova- tion. Computer technology began to play a major role in customer service, with the first remote checking of bank statements via the Minitel service an early Internet-type net- work invented in France and BNP made strenuous efforts to stay ahead of the competi- tion on the technology front. In 1989 BNP formed a strategic alliance in the insurance field with UAP, which later became part of the AXA group. With the advent of the Single European Market, BNP reinforced links with Dresdner Bank in the 1990s, the two banks taking equity stakes in each other and setting up joint ventures, in particular in countries of the former East European bloc, such as Poland. The bank became best known however for its corporate and major project financing. It made its mark in aerospace and also helped to finance two iconic European projects: Eurotunnel in 1986 and Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris) in 1992. The bank was run along prudent lines, and so managed to avoid the real estate crash of the 1990s.

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