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
Meanwhile Paribas opened a large trading floor in London in 1986, while Compagnie Ban- caire continued to innovate. In 1984 it set up Cortal, which was the first 100% branchless bank. In 1985 Cortal began to offer interest-bearing accounts, and in 1994 set up a SICAV (unit trust) boutique. When government policy changed again, Paribas was re-privatised in 1987, attracting a record number of individual shareholders to its public offer. The bank now pursued a business model based on international merchant banking and specialist finance, which led it in 1997 to divest its retail arm, Crédit du Nord.
In 1993, Michel Pébereau was appointed to head up BNP with a mandate to take the bank through privatisation. This proved a great success, and in fact BNP was the first bank to act as its own advisor on the public share offer. Michel Pébereau then embarked on a truly industrial-scale project. The year 1992 had seen the introduction of the Single Euro- pean Market and he set about creating a financial institution equipped to take on the new competition. The branch network was modernised and the product range brought up to date. From 1997 the bank was available to customers via the Internet. Around this time it also set up a sophisticated risk control process.
BNP Paribas: the forging of a top-rank banking group
Michel Pébereau had a vision of building a competitive European banking force. Accord- ingly, he made successive overtures to a number of French banks, with a view to forming alliances with them but his proposals failed to convince potential partners. In 1999, when plans to merge Société Générale and Paribas was announced, he seized the opportunity to launch a daring takeover bid, a first in France, which took the Paris stock exchange by surprise. Under what it called the SBP Project , BNP made simultaneous unsolicited bids for Société Générale and Paribas based on share-exchange offers. Following a six month takeover battle, BNP acquired control of Paribas. However, the French Central Bank, the Banque de France, refused to authorise BNP to take a controlling interest in Société Générale.
The subsequent period witnessed the progressive formation of a leader in the European banking sphere. The smooth, even-handed integration of the staff of the two constituent banks ensured a consistent management approach, and the best systems and services from each bank were retained. The creation of the BNP Paribas brand, capitalising on the two traditions, with a new logo, and a new brand signature the bank for a changing world helped to ensure a strong international profile. In 2003, a major change to the Group s governance was introduced, with the separation of the positions of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, a move which was carried through very smoothly, maintaining stability.
Meanwhile the outside world was changing, and BNP Paribas was well aware of the fact. The Bank s senior management was wary of making new acquisitions at any price and waited patiently to find the right partners and to develop a balanced business model. A number of takeovers, several of them under the aegis of Baudouin Prot after he was
ORANŻERIA , HOL GŁÓWNY CENTRALI BNP PARIBAS, RUE D ANTIN
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SIEDZIBĄ BANQUE DE PARIS ET DES PAYS-BAS (PARIBAS).
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THE HEAD OFFICE OF BNP PARIBAS WAS, BEFORE 2000, THE HEAD
OFFICE OF BANQUE DE PARIS ET DES PAYS-BAS (PARIBAS)