- Société Générale
- Founded in 1822 on the impetus provided by King William I, who favored Brussels over Antwerp as its headquarters city, the Société Générale served as the central government bank from its inception. Known during the Dutch regime as the Banque de Bruxelles, it was referred to in the southern provinces simple as "the bank." It drew its principal resources from the state treasury and branches were set up throughout Belgium, where it remained the state bank until 1849. It served as a key financial resource to spur economic development, which was further stimulated by the competition that arose between the bank and its rival the Banque de Belgique. The bank provided financial support for development of the Leopold district and construction of the Galeries Saint-Hubert. Encouraged by its example, private banks became active as sources of investment funds and Brussels served as the capital of financial activities in Belgium.Engaged in many economic activities in addition to banking, the Société Générale was the world's first industrial conglomerate. It occupied a central position in railway construction and the smelting of nonferrous metals. It remains the largest industrial corporation in Belgium.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.