Rothschild family unites french english branches
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Two hundred years on, Rothschild banking group unifies
By Thomas Urbain
Updated: 18/Jul/2007 14:29
PARIS (AFP)---The French and English branches of the fabled
Rothschild banking family announced their unification on Tuesday, ending a separation that dates from the 19th century.
Under an agreement announced on Tuesday the two will unify their
shareholdings under a single holding company, the French group Paris-Orleans.
Symbols of finance, the Rothschild dynasty, which includes media personalities, amateurs of horse racing and owners of prestigious vineyards, is best known for its capital management activities.
The two branches were created at the beginning of the 19th century when the founder of the dynasty, Frankfurt-based Meyer Amschel, sent his sons on a mission throughout Europe to develop the bank he had created.
Amschel was renamed Rothschild by his neighbours because of the red shield which adorned his house.
Of the four sons who left Germany, Nathan settled in London and founded NM
Rothschild and Sons. Jacob Meyer, who was nicknamed James, settled for Paris.
Jacob Meyer’s success was astounding. He in no time gained influence,
largely thanks to his interest in high society life.
The success of the British branch was also spectacular. The son of Nathan,
Lionel, in 1858 became the first Jewish member of the upper house of
parliament, the House of Lords.
His descendant, Sir Evelyn, the former chief of the British branch who is now aged 75, had privileged relations with the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
A backer of the merger between the French and British branches, Sir Evelyn has passed responsibility over to his three children, Jessica, 33, Anthony, 30 and David 28, who all inherit a share in the new group.
Paris-Orleans is to buy the 50-percent stake held by the English branch of the family in a holding company that controls the banking empire, Concordia BV.
The transaction will cost Paris-Orleans 446 million euros (615 million
dollars), with payment made 50 percent in shares and 50 percent in cash.
Sir Evelyn will receive most of the cash, with the shares passed to his children.
The French cousins David and Eric de Rothschild are the two strongmen of the banking empire.
The former already oversees Rothschild’s entire banking activities and he will be soon be at the head of the Paris Orleans holding company that groups the two branches.
Eric will remain president of the Paris Orleans supervisory board.
They will thus share the reins of an international group, active in mergers and acquisitions, as well as private asset management.
David will go down in history as the first member of the French branch to have joined the English branch.
This happened in 1992 when Sir Evelyn called on him to take over the vice chairmanship of the British branch, as his own children were still too young.
Several years earlier David was responsible, with his cousin Nathaniel, for the ressurrection of the French branch, after its nationalisation in 1981.
In doing so he rebuilt a bank, called P.O. Bank, for Paris-Orleans. The
Rothschilds could not use their own name as it had been kept for use by the new nationalised bank.
The history of the French branch is intertwined with that of France.
After the defeat of France in 1871, James’ son, Alphonse, helped to raise the five billion francs demanded by Prussia in return for liberating part of the occupied territory.
On the French financial landscape the bank Rothschild cohabits with the Compagnie Financiere Rothschild, a separate company, which is specialised in fortune management.
It was created by Edmond de Rothschild who died in 1997, and presided by his son Benjamin.
The two entities are however linked by cross minority shareholdings.