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The Performance of European Business in the Twentieth Century$
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Youssef Cassis, Andrea Colli, and Harm Schröter

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198749776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198749776.001.0001

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The Performance of Belgian Enterprises in the Twentieth Century

The Performance of Belgian Enterprises in the Twentieth Century

(p.55) 4 The Performance of Belgian Enterprises in the Twentieth Century
The Performance of European Business in the Twentieth Century

Frans Buelens

Ludo Cuyvers

Marc Deloof

Helma De Smedt

Oxford University Press

Belgian capitalism during the twentieth century was characterized by important changes in composition and ownership. Belgian capitalists around 1900 were dominating the home country and were heavily investing abroad, while around 2000 they were pushed into a minority position, with foreign multinationals having become dominant players. The independence of the Belgian Congo (1960) and the takeover of the Société Générale by the French Suez company (1988) were important steps in this direction. Activities were changing too. Whereas around 1900 ‘old industries’ such as steel, coal, and textiles dominated the Belgian economy, their position declined. Around 2000, it was rather telecommunication, gas and electricity, retail distribution, and petrochemical industries that played a major role. Remarkably, although return on equity (ROE) performance throughout the century had its ups and downs, it remained by and large remarkably stable, with ROE (median) around 10–12%.

Keywords:   Belgian capitalism, old industries, ROE performance, Belgian Congo, Société Générale, return on equity

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