The Disappearance of Large Diversified Business Groups
Bank-oriented business groups have been closely related to the growth of Belgium since independence in 1831. The Société générale de Belgique in particular was a leading example of a widely held business group with extensive banking and industrial interests. The holding companies that characterized the Belgian economy for 150 years have largely disappeared. They were acquired or their holdings were sold to larger entities from neighboring countries, in particular from France. European economic integration appears to be the most compelling explanation for the disappearance of the large diversified group in Belgium. It does not explain why Belgian groups failed to take advantage of the new opportunities offered by the European single market.
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