I am both happy and sad. Sad because this will be a tear for me. For 18 years, as CEO and President, the BNP and BNP Paribas are my life and my thoughts day and night. But happy, because the group is doing well, the results are remarkable. When I took the head of the BNP in 1993, she was not armed to cope with the upcoming changes in the banking industry. Its independence was gained. The dream was mine to transform this institution into a profitable company contributing to the global economic reach of the France and Europe is realized. And Baudouin Prot and Jean-Laurent Bonnafé are a formidable team.
Whenever a responsibility has been entrusted to me, I started to think about my succession upon my appointment. Everything goes as planned. I decided in 2003 to relinquish my duties as General Manager and assign them to Baudouin Prot to the General surprise. But I was 61 years old and, after the success of the merger, BNP Paribas was well on track. I considered that it was time to pass the branch to Baudouin, who had 52. Experience has shown that it was a good idea. Also, I had set in the statutes of the Bank the current age limits. Baudouin Prot think like me that this system, which allows the Director-General to perform his duties of 50 to 60 years is optimal for the large bank that BNP Paribas.
It is necessary, as the choice of Baudouin to succeed me branch in June 2003 and to the Presidency in December. We consider, Baudouin Prot, and me, that it is perfectly in State's branch of the Bank. And I know that Baudouin Prot has all the qualities required to be a remarkable President.
Jean-Laurent Bonnafé is a contractor, a manager and he made his bank officer classes. He joined the BNP in the same time as me UI ' is a coincidence. He worked in the large business service, and then I entrusted the strategy. He demonstrated his abilities during the battle on the Société Générale and Paribas and linchpin of the mission to carry out the merger. I then gave him the responsibility of our banking network in France, it has accelerated the transformation. Afterwards, Baudouin Prot entrusted more branch of BNL, and then that of Fortis Bank. Retail banking is one of the best schools of management. To succeed, it must both a strategic vision and knowledge of the men in the field.
Our current governance proved to use perfectly adapted to BNP Paribas.
Be as fully as possible themselves. Bring the values of the group, to the choice of which I had devoted the first meeting of 80 staff of BNP Paribas frameworks in January 1993: responsiveness, creativity, ambition and commitment. And our management principles which Baudouin and the Executive Committee come to a beautiful synthesis: be at the service of the client, undertaken in full awareness of risks, valuing people, and lead by example.
This will be the new leaders of the set, with the Board of Directors of the Bank. If we have a little early deadlines, it is to quickly engage in long term thinking. Basel III reforms and EU directives will disrupt banking conditions. Our strategy also depends on the progress of the construction European and emerging markets to foreign banks including opening opportunities in Asia, which remains largely closed. Our Bank has all the advantages for, better than others, the opportunities that arise. I am sure that she will be able to take the necessary initiatives.
In 1993, isolated, the BNP was not the scale necessary to meet the challenges of the enlarged Europe. Its market capitalization was one third of that of Deutsche Bank. To create the French base necessary for the formation of a large European Bank, I had suggested then a friendly reconciliation with the BNP to most of the other major banking groups. In vain. To succeed, it took me finally launch an unprecedented market operation: an offer public not sought on both banks of the same size as the BNP. As soon as the merger BNP Paribas completed, I hired contacts with other banks in Europe, notably with Fortis, to create a truly European institution. Without success. It is finally the crisis and the BNP Paribas good resulting quality of its control of the risks, and the perseverance of our Directorate-General, who gave us the opportunity to take control of Fortis Bank. BNP Paribas today is a global leader, with, for domestic market, four founding countries of the European Union. The Group has great capacity of development by organic growth and targeted acquisitions. We completed the project that we fixed, the Bank of the euro which politicians asked with insistence the realization before the crisis. It would be paradoxical that it tells us that our group is too large. So it has demonstrated its strength during the crisis and has significantly strengthened its solvency ratios since then. But it is true that the temptation to regulators in some countries is to re-establish regulatory barriers that would fragment the market. If the Group was still considering a change of dimension, it should rethink its organization. This is not the order of the day.
I turned this page at the end of the night of August 27, 1999, in which the Governor of the Bank of France found that 36 of the capital of the company that we had given the market were not sufficient to ensure the control and asked us to make them. In the morning I sounding the merger of BNP with Paribas in a joint meeting of the committees of the two banks branch.
Our company acquired a culture of transformation and miscegenation which gives it an outstanding force in a changing world.
The first transformation. The BNP of 1993 had avoided, with René Thomas, some errors, and hadculture a sense of customers and the general interest. But it was an old lady, outdated management practices and control of the risks failed. Need to modernize in the emergency - because the world will quickly - but step by step, because a company is a living body, whose transformation can succeed only if it is gradual. This effort was that of the 1990s. It took then create, from scratch, a management active-passive pioneer; control of the risks based on an independent sector of specialists; instruments of the control of costs. We conducted, in constant dialogue with the social partners, a patient conversion work to adapt the teams to the modern Bank, from a true management employment meticulous. And we put entrepreneurs in power. All this is born a true culture of change, a way to address the challenges in depth and unhurriedly, in respect of all and lucidly accepting economic realities.
The other basis of the culture of the company, it is the merger of BNP Paribas which has been the founding element: build in opening to the other, this is not so often. Principles of balance, fairness and transparency have been our know-how base in reconciliations. The later stages of the Europeanisation of our group have contributed to strengthening the culture of miscegenation and diversity, which allows it to be today truly international while remaining very close to each local reality.
BNP Paribas, is a real community of men and women welded, which is attached to its values, its ethics. Respect of the social contract of departure - the modernization of the Bank without forced departure - and announced principles, particularly in the merger BNP Paribas have created, I think, a real climate of confidence. Cohesion staff reflects the existence, throughout, a real team spirit. Our human community has its problems and weaknesses like any other. But in general it is pleased to be a part: what show investigations.
Finally, there is an essential characteristic of BNP Paribas, asserted continuously since 1993: the desire to be a corporate citizen, with a balanced vision and long-term interests of all stakeholders: customers, shareholders, employees. In this long-term perspective, I have taken since the origins to fix a couple performance-risk lower than our most ambitious competitors. This may be a little penalizes our results in the period of euphoria, but certainly secures them when occurs a crisis.
Must be all the lessons of the financial crisis at the level of the regulation: it lacked a precise definition of the own funds of banks; risks were not adequately weighted, and the risk of not really controlled liquidity; solvency ratios certainly deserved to be identified. But current projects concerning the ratios of solvency and liquidity and systemic so-called institutions may weigh on the financing of the economy while leaving aside some essential topics. The crisis has shown that it was the quality of the supervision was critical: there where it was insured, and where banks are held to their true profession - in Australia, the Canada, France and Italy - banking systems have better resisted. Accounting standards, which have played a role clear acceleration and enlargement bubbles of the crisis, they are to reform.
As a company, we always adapt. But our duty of Bank in the service of our customers and the economy is to alert policy makers on the effects of surréactions of regulators may have on the price and the volume of credit, therefore on growth. Especially in continental Europe, where the economy is funded for two-thirds by banking intermediation, and where the growth potential is already not very strong.
To limit the extent of the recession, all developed countries have deepened their public debts, the United States and the Japan, such as Europe.
For me, this sovereign crisis has demonstrated the capacity of reaction and solidarity of Europe, and thus its strength. In a weekend, our authorities have managed to collect 750 billion euros to help countries in difficulty, while the Treaty was limited to 60 billion the total amount of possible aid. The ECB has decided to non-conventional interventions in public securities markets which it had until then excluded the very principle. And all European countries have rigorous programs to quickly reduce public deficits within the stability pact. This is my eyes. Of market specialists remains very influenced by the specialized press are expressed skeptical observers from the origin to the euro, or even primarily from Europe.
Of course. Our country has great capabilities. Our companies have shown the ability of the French working there to face competition and globalization. Many groups, which were only our national leaders, became European or global leaders. Our SMEs have also improved their financial soundness and their management: better crossed this crisis than the 93-95 years, which was much less severe. The Commission on the public debt that I chaired in 2005 focused on the deposit of additional growth to a more efficient and more effective public expenditure management. Our country has the capacity to exploit.
My original vocation was the public service: I served in the Ministry of finance for 15 years after my release from the ENA. At the age of 40, circumstances led me to convert me to learn a new trade. I am a banker since 30 years. Politics is a profession. I never thought having the qualities required to exercise it.
We see at this time! I keep all my responsibilities of Chairman of the group until December 1. And you've found, I think, it's a job full time. Regarding the future, one of the causes that take me most at heart, is the creation of economic activity and equality of opportunity in the neighbourhoods. This is an area in which the company can contribute to Republican cohesion. I will try to devote a portion of my time.