In this complex situation in which France found itself at the end of the conflict, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas approached the problems in a different way via its representative André Gallais-Homonno.
As a merchant bank, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas did not have a particular vocation for taking on property reconstruction. Nevertheless, it was keen to take a stand when it initiated such consortiums or when it was asked to do so. Generally taking the role of co-lead arranger with a nationalised bank, as these banks had divided the territory into areas of influence, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas financed the reconstruction of cities or departments. For Le Havre and its surroundings, it was the sole lead arranger. Elsewhere, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas joined forces as co-lead arranger with other banks. This was the case with CNEP for the reconstructions of Orléans and Loiret, the Saint-Malo region and the Savoie and Mayenne departments. It participated with Société Générale in the reconstruction of Lisieux, Falaise and the surrounding area, the Normandy coast and the hinterland, and Saint-Nazaire and its surrounding areas. Finally, with Crédit Lyonnais, it would finance Marseille and Bouches-du-Rhône, the departments of Aisne, Eure and the department that is still known as Seine et Oise.
A MAJOR INTERVENTION IN INDUSTRY
On the other hand, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas had a special role to play in the recovery of industry. It was therefore in this sector that it invested and became involved by setting up financing organisations and directing financial operations, as well as seeking any new or complementary financing methods. Moreover, the bank was able to provide a certain impetus which would enable it to acquire a determining role in consortiums, by proposing additional services to the companies.
The industrial sector was composed of two sectors: the so-called “actual” industries, such as petroleum, film, metal processing, etc., and industrial and economic units such as ports – whether they were autonomous or managed by the Chambers of Commerce, as in Le Havre, Bordeaux, Nantes or Boulogne-sur-Mer.
In “pure” industry, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas played an essential role. As the sole lead arranger of the “Consortium for the Reconstitution of the Food Industries” (groupement pour la reconstitution des industries alimentaires), it therefore financed industries that were essential to the daily life of the population, as this consortium brought together the milling industry, the sugar industry and its refineries, the breweries, the wine industry, the chocolate industry, the canning industry and many others. It also managed the reconstruction of the cold stores, general stores and merchant navy. In conjunction with the Comptoir national d’escompte de Paris [CNEP] and Société Générale, it shared the financing of the textiles industry in Alsace, Vosges and Normandy, the tanning industry, the rubber industry, the steel and chemical industries, etc. Each time, the bank joined forces with professional associations and large companies in the sector. For example, amongst others, the Union des chambres syndicales de l’industrie du pétrole, Fédération française des carburants and Compagnie française des pétroles, Lille-Bosnières Colombes, Desmarais frères and Péchelbroon participated in the fuel manufacturer consortium.
The amounts of funds committed were commensurate with the needs of a devastated economy. Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas was the sole lead arranger for the sectors mentioned, lending 8.8 billion francs to the oil industry, 3.8 billion francs to the food industry, and 1.8 billion francs to the reconstruction of the merchant navy between 1948 and 1950. With the Banque nationale pour le commerce et l’industrie [BNCI], it injected 1 billion francs into the reconstruction of road and ecological waterway transport and almost 1.7 billion francs into the building materials industry. In conjunction with CNEP, nearly 6 billion would be injected into electrical construction.
SAINT-MALO AND THE NORMANDY COAST, AN EXAMPLE OF PROPERTY CONSORTIUMS
Liberated in August 1944, Saint-Malo had been subjected to enemy occupation and the horrors of the “organisation Todt”. Dozens of buildings had been demolished for German military purposes but was systematically destroyed by bombing. In addition to the historic city and the main port works, all buildings were hit: 60% were totally destroyed as well as almost all public buildings.
In addition to the 516 buildings destroyed, representing 317,000 sq. m, social, educational and medical services were flattened. Almost 10,000 people were living in unsanitary conditions. The initial estimates of property damage in April 1948 indicated a need for 7.5 billion francs for reconstruction. But the damage was not limited to Saint-Malo. The entire coastline was affected, from Dinard to Saint-Servan. The small surrounding communes quickly realised that, for the steps being taken, joining forces was necessary and associating with a city like Saint-Malo would be more effective than committing to a departmental project. As a result, the canton of Saint-Servan with 11 localities joined with Saint-Malo.
Created in February 1948, the “Consortium for the Reconstruction of Saint-Malo and the Towns of Dinard, Parame, Saint-Servan and Surrounding Areas” (groupement pour la reconstitution de Saint-Malo et des villes de Dinard, Parame, Saint-Servan et environ) appointed Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas and CNEP as co-lead arrangers and launched a 150 million franc loan. Given the success and the need, the bank launched a second loan for the same amount in February 1950.
As for the Normandy coast, whilst the “organisation Todt” had already seriously damaged the region, the D-Day landings on 6 June and the fighting that followed completed the destruction of the towns in the area. On 24 January 1948, the consortium for the reconstruction of the Normandy coast was created, with its headquarters in Cabourg, and brought together cantons such as Isigny, Trouville, Bayeux and Pont-l’Evêque. In March 1948, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, co-lead arranger with Société Générale, launched a 100 million franc bond.