Our experts closely follow the economy and financial markets.

1871- 2021: Solid values defy time

By Bruno Colmant - Former Group Head of Private Banking and external consultant
Banque Degroof Petercam is the result of a long history of financial entrepreneurs and pioneers in asset management.

The origins of Banque Philippson

The history of Degroof Petercam began in 1871 on the Brussels stock exchange. Franz Philippson was 20 years old. The Franco-German war had just ended. The French sold their securities to finance reparations and cities were having trouble financing construction. Philippson started out in arbitrage. He sent stock market orders to his correspondents in London, Paris and Frankfurt. Banque Philippson – originally the Oppenheim–Errera bank – specialised in issuing loans for local authorities. In 1886 the bank scored a major coup: the conversion of Brussels’ debt. Two years later, Philippson bought the bank’s headquarters on rue Guimard in the heart of the Luxembourg district.

Banque Degroof: a new name, the same spirit

Between the wars, the bank managed by his sons, Jules and Maurice, participated in major public loans, the stabilisation of the franc and the privatisation of the Belgian railways. In 1940, the Philippson family had to flee the German invasion. Two partners, including Jean Degroof, continued the bank’s activities. Degroof became the Philippsons’ trusted advisor. And the bank now bears his name. After liberation, the Gutt operation introduced currency reform. The bank took advantage of this and expanded into asset management and remained active in the stock market. In 1955, 8% of all transactions went through it! 

The pioneers of the brokerage firm Petercam

Two Brussels stockbrokers played a key role in the founding of Petercam: Léon Libert and Emile Van Campenhout. In the 1920s, Belgium faced inflation and the stock market became a refuge against monetary erosion. In 1934, Lucien Peterbroeck, Léon Libert’s son-in-law, began working with him. But after the depression of the 1930s, confidence in the stock market was shaken. In 1966, some visionary stockbrokers, including Jean Peterbroeck and Etienne and Emmanuel Van Campenhout, suggested reforming the profession. Peterbroeck was an expert in portfolio management for individuals and Etienne Van Campenhout was a specialist in foreign exchange, international arbitration and institutional investor relations. In 1968, they joined forces and formed the Petercam stock exchange company. The team moved to Place Sainte-Gudule. In 1982, the Cooreman-Declercq Act, inspired by Etienne Van Campenhout, resurrected the stock market by granting tax benefits to new issues and purchases of shares.

Two innovative companies

The two firms grew, opened subsidiaries abroad, diversified their services, including IPOs – of which they quickly became champions – and innovated by launching new services such as pension fund management for third parties and new investment products: SICAFI, bond SICAVs, cash funds, derivatives, etc. In 1990, the Maystadt law gave banks access to the capital markets. Banque Degroof took advantage of this opportunity to create the stock exchange company it had proposed. For his part, Jean Peterbroeck created the Bel 20 as president of the Brussels stock exchange. In 2002, the two companies acquired several stock exchange companies to ensure that they would have a broad network in the country. 

Banque Degroof and Petercam: the best of both worlds

In 2015, the two companies merged to form Banque Degroof Petercam. The new firm, with its new and complementary talents, remains faithful to a common core business: asset management. In addition, its competences and services include institutional management, investment banking and the administrative management of investment funds.

Ready for the next 150 years!

This exceptional longevity is a testament to our entrepreneurial spirit and our role in the Belgian economic landscape as a major player in the financial market. Following the legacy of those who came before us, we remain a trusted and responsible partner to our clients by turning innovative ideas into concrete actions and by raising awareness of future challenges. Our company has created unique conditions to move our economy and society forward and we continue to do so. In order to ensure that our clients’ assets grow and to defend their financial interests, we innovate, and regardless of the circumstances, we move forward.
Stay up-to-date
Subscribe to our blog
Are you interested in financial news? Subscribe to our blog and receive new articles directly in your mailbox.
We respect your privacy and ensure that your details are secure.
Share the article