The Banque nationale pour le commerce et l’industrie (1932-1966)

Saran, archives – BNP Paribas Historical Archives


  • Date range: 1924-1986
  • Physical description: Paper archives, posters, photos, prints
  • Volume: 1,890 in UA
  • Physical location: Dinan and ANMT for some files

Conditions for access and use

  • Access condition: communicable on authorisation
  • Language: French
  • Material characteristics and technical constraints:

In addition to the paper archives, we keep: posters, which make up the AF series, divided into four sub-series according to the poster size; a collection of photos, from several collections that have been reorganised. The photographs are marked “Fi” and reorganised in several sub-series within the Fi series; a library, made up of monographs and serial publications; a collection of periodicals; objects, classified under the OB series.


BNCI kept its archives for a long time in its own premises, in Paris as well as in the provinces or in its subsidiaries abroad. The bank’s merger with Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris (CNEP) in 1966, both nationalised, to become Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP), and the government’s desire for decentralisation in national companies changed its conservation policy. In June 1971, an archive building entirely dedicated to this archiving activity was opened in Saran in Loiret, by André Bettencourt, Minister of Regional Planning. This building, designed by the bank’s architectural teams, was specially dedicated to the conservation of the bank’s interim archives. It was a 20,000 m² building, allowing the storage of 450 kml of archives.

Around the year 2000, while the group’s archive management policy turned towards outsourcing, this was not the case for historical archives, which continued to be stored internally. Concentrated on the Combs-la-Ville site, the historical archives were then transferred in 2020 to the Taden site in the suburbs of Dinan. Kept in the old securities safes, the historical archives of the BNP Paribas group were thus kept in optimal conditions.


Following the liquidation of Banque Nationale de Crédit (BNC) in April 1932, the new bank wanted to provide some reassurance and show by its name that it planned to invest in industry and not only in trade, which was still in the midst of a crisis. The former BNC was therefore renamed Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI), retaining part of its staff, taking up residence in the same head office (16 boulevard des Italiens in Paris) and retaining the client base.

Its first chairman, François Albert-Buisson, was chosen by the government. He was the former chairman of the Seine commercial court. But the real driver of the bank was Alfred Pose, its first CEO (former director of studies of Société Générale Alsacienne de Banque in Strasbourg). Under his leadership, a dynamic reorganisation and modernisation of structures was undertaken.

With the gradual establishment of the first administrative centres in the provinces from 1933, BNCI introduced innovative working methods: administrative tasks were carried out away from the operational counters. Thus, BNCI creates the first bank back-offices (administrative processing centres), separate from commercial activities. Gradually, the bank equipped itself with eight regional administrative centres, with equipment to process transactions entrusted to the counters in series and serve customers much more quickly.

A phase of regional expansion began from 1937. BNCI expanded its network through a methodical policy of absorbing regional or local banks, often in difficult situations: Banque Renault in Nancy (1933), Banque Adam (1937), Banque des Alpes, Banque du Dauphiné, Caisse Commerciale de Saint-Quentin, Crédit du Rhône et du Sud-Est. Just before the war, it also took control of Banque Générale de Guyenne in Bergerac, Banque Roque in Brive and Banque Dastre in Saint-Gaudens. Customer deposits thus reached 10 billion francs in 1940, from 3 billion francs in 1932.

The BNCI network began to take off internationally during the German occupation of France, after the opening in 1938 of a small branch in London, which during the war provided valuable support for the bank’s French network.

While the conflict paralysed development in metropolitan France, BNCI looked overseas to set up new locations. In 1940, BNCI took control of a local institution, Banque de l’Union Nord-Africaine, renamed BNCI-Afrique (BNCIA). BNCI also opened agencies in Saint-Louis in Senegal, Abidjan, Conakry, Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Bangui, Douala, Madagascar and Réunion (in 1943 acquiring Crédit foncier de Madagascar et de la Réunion, renamed BNCI-Océan Indien in 1954), and established a presence in the West Indies. BNCI comprised a network of agencies which, over ten years, expanded to cover all of the major countries of Africa, in which it developed a wide range of business interests generating significant capital. At the same time, between 1942 and 1944, around thirty offices were opened in Syria and Lebanon, then under French rule, while at the same time continuing to expand BNCIA from Algiers.                                                                          

After the liberation, following the commitments of the National Council of the Resistance, the major deposit banks, including BNCI, were nationalised. Its presence abroad continued and was then implemented through a policy of subsidiarisation, a more flexible organisation which would prove judicious during decolonisation: in 1947, it transformed its London branch into a subsidiary, named the British and French Bank. In 1943, it took over Crédit foncier de Madagascar et de la Réunion, which became BNCI Océan Indien in 1954, Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BICI), present in Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast and Senegal, and Banque Marocaine pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BMCI).

In the 1950s, BNCI strengthened its position on the domestic market and opened up to accounts for individuals (in 1964, with the Banque de Union Parisienne, it was one of first to create a SICAV for its customers). However, it did not abandon the international market: in 1953, some of its services specialised in advising French investors and entrepreneurs exploring new resources or markets in southern countries, and in 1958, it even created a specialised subsidiary: Société pour le développement international du commerce et de l’industrie (INTERCOMI). Ahead of its merger with CNEP in 1966, the bank had 1,050 counters in France, twice as many as in 1945, and was the leading bank in France by the scope of its network outside mainland France, with a presence in 40 countries, “in the four corners of the world”. It was the most dynamic financial institution of the post-war period, a group at the head of 23 subsidiaries. It operated on all financial and money markets. 

On 4 May 1966, Finance Minister Michel Debré announced the merger of BNCI with the Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris (CNEP) into a new institution with the name of Banque Nationale de Paris. (BNP). BNP was created with a powerful international network, becoming the leading French bank in terms of its balance sheet total, the second in Europe and seventh in the world of finance. Its management was entrusted to a duo made up of Pierre Ledoux, former CEO of BNCI, who became the new CEO, and chairman Henry Bizot, former chairman of CNEP.

Additional sources

Collection kept at the National Archives of the World of Work (ANMT) 

Presentation of content:

The collection only contains the archives from BNP’s studies and litigation documentation section.

155 AQ 1Creation of the bank in 1932 and transfer to BNP: circulars and histories (1932-1968). Articles of association, reports printed for general meetings (1932-1937).1932-1968
155 AQ 2Exchange audits1933-1966
155 AQ 3-5World War II. Legislation on banks, movements of international funds, blocked or sequestered goods, the Dietrich et Cie affair in Niederbronn (Bas-Rhin), war damages.1939-1967
155 AQ 6Takeovers of private banks by BNCI: BNC, Adam and around thirty institutions.1925-1960
155 AQ 7-8Subsidiaries and shareholdings in France and abroad: articles of association, reports, press clippings, circulars and correspondence.1919-1966


C-A. LUCAS, P. PASCALLON, Albert-Buisson, un destin au XXe siècle (1881-1961) )[Albert-Buisson, a 20th century destiny (1881-1961)], Paris, L’Harmattan, 475 p.

C. TISSIER-DAUPHIN, L’histoire d’une entreprise, la Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie, 18 avril 1932 – 30 juin 1966 [The story of a company, Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie, 18 April 1932 – 30 June 1966], 1975, Mémoire de maîtrise.

F. TORRES, Une banque moderne. Histoire de la BNP et de ses deux maisons-mères [A modern bank. History of BNP and its two parent companies], Public Histoire, 1992, Paris, tome 1.

P. FLEURIOT , L’histoire de la Banque nationale pour le commerce et l’industrie (BNCI) ) [The history of Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI)], 1975, 80 p.

N. ICHOU-COUSSEMENT , Les employés de banque du CNEP et de la BNCI : parcours de travail et temps de vie (1848-1970) [The bank employees of CNEP and BNCI: work and life paths (1848-1970)] doctoral thesis.