Two centuries of banking

The story of BNP Paribas dates back to the 19th century, when the banks that would eventually form the Group first opened and expanded. Fueled by Europe’s extraordinary industrial growth, the banks were able to set aside enough savings to finance crucial economic development. From its early beginnings to the present day, the Group’s evolution offers an opportunity to explore two centuries of banking history, in addition to that of Europe and the world as a whole.

BNP Paribas’ predecessors

The Group’s earliest forerunners were the comptoirs d’escompte, or discount banks, established in 1848 to address a severe economic and banking crisis that was affecting France at the time:

  • The Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris (CNEP) specialised very early on in international trade financing, and began to establish its pioneering international banking network in 1860. It was also a key player in corporate finance and in the financial markets.
  • The Comptoir d’Escompte de Mulhouse, founded at the initiative of textile and manufacturing entrepreneurs, was taken over by its subsidiary, the Banque Nationale de Crédit, in 1930. This firm, which foundered during the crisis of 1932, was re-launched under the name of Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI). BNCI was notable for its dynamic commercial approach, its innovations and its creation of an international network based in Africa.

The birth of BNP, a major banking player

In 1945, CNEP and BNCI were nationalised. They merged in 1966 to form the first French state bank, the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP). BNP was part of extending access to the banking system to the French population on a massive scale. In 1993, BNP was privatised under the leadership of Michel Pébereau, who profoundly transformed the company.

Paribas, the premier French investment bank

In 1999, after an intense stock market battle, BNP took control of Paribas. Founded in 1872, Paribas (then called the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas) rapidly became the leading French investment bank. It held stakes in a large number of companies and specialised in the financial markets and in infrastructure finance. In 1998, Paribas took over the Compagnie Bancaire, a financial services company created in 1946 and a crucible that forged pioneering companies such as Cetelem (1953).

A world-class European leader since 2000

The BNP Paribas Group was created in 2000 and has become a strong European leader, following the integration of several banks that were themselves rich in history. A more extensive overview of our international history is available on: www.history.bnpparibas

Deep roots in Belgium

Our bank was born from the merger of a number of strong financial companies, which since the 19th century have been essential pillars of Belgium’s economic and social history, such as the Generale Bank (formerly the Société Générale de Belgique, founded in 1822) and the Caisse Générale d’Epargne et de Retraite (CGER)/Algemene Spaar- en Lijfrentekas (ASLK), established in 1865. Our bank is firmly rooted in our society and has a tradition of genuine commitment through its services and support to the economy.

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