Societe Generale in Brazil: from 1867 to 2013
Societe Generale has a long history in Brazil. As early as 1867, only three years after the Bank was founded, it was already subscribing to bonds issued by the government of the emperor Don Pedro II.
The Group subsequently went on to acquire stakes in the industrial sector, which led to the control of a third of the shares in the Dona Theresa Christina Railway Company and the issue of Sao Paulo State bonds guaranteed against coffee stocks. However, it was not until 1967 that it opened a representative office there, as management decided to focus its efforts on the Peruvian, Argentinian and Cuban markets in the meantime.
After years of prospecting, Societe Generale expanded its activities in Brazil in 1981 with the acquisition of 24% of Banco Commercio E Industria de Rio de Janeiro, which resulted in the creation of its subsidiary Banco Sogeral S.A. Its stake was increased to 45% in 1985. La Sogeral's head office is situated in the heart of Sao Paulo, the country's main economic hub. La Sogeral offers all the services of a traditional bank and is supported by a network that will include up to twelve branches. Its customers consist mainly of SMEs.
1997 marked a shift in the subsidiary's strategy. To boost its competitiveness, traditional banking operations were discarded except for import-export financing. Activity focused on a restricted number of customers (multinationals or large Brazilian companies in the equipment, energy, heavy metals and food commodities sectors) which were offered corporate and investment banking services. In late 1999, the Group acquired 100% of Banco Sogeral, which two years later became Banco Societe Generale Brasil S/A.
During the last decade, Societe Generale diversified its activities in a booming market, with ALD Automotive (2005) and Societe Generale Equipment Finance (2008), and the successive acquisitions of Banco Pecúnia (2006) and Banco Cacique (2007), two subsidiaries specialised in consumer finance, and SG Insurance Corretora de Seguros (2009) in the insurance sector.
In 2011, the prestigious business newspaper Valor Econômico named Societe Generale the leading French bank in terms of credit volume in Brazil. In June 2013, the Group reached a new milestone when it embarked on a capital increase of around EUR 100 million in favour of Banco Societe Generale Brasil. This should, in the near future, enable it to offer a new range of services and increase its foothold in the world's sixth-largest economy.