The French and English branches of the Rothschild banking dynasty are to unify ownership of the firm in a single holding company for the first time since the family separated in the 19th century.
Under the new structure, the two sides of the family will own shares in a holding company, FamilyCo, which in turn will own the French and English banks through an existing French vehicle called Paris-Orleans, listed on the Paris bourse.
Paris-Orleans will pay €446m (£300m) for a 50pc stake held by the English branch of the family in Concordia BV (after the family motto “concordia, integritas, industria”), a holding company created under an initial alliance in 2003.
Paris-Orleans already owns the other 50pc of Concordia. It will pay half the 446m in shares and half in cash to allow the 75-year-old head of the English branch, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, to dispose of his 200m stake.
Sir Evelyn stepped down as chairman of the English bank four years ago when the two sides agreed to merge their businesses. At the time, French aristocrat Baron David de Rothschild, son of Guy de Rothschild, who died last month, became executive chairman of both the English and French banks, uniting them at an operational level.
Now they are to be united at shareholder level to “secure the unity and long-term independence of the banking group”, said a statement released yesterday.
The move comes almost two centuries after the founder, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, a successful money lender in Frankfurt-am-Main, despatched four of his five sons to different European capitals to take advantage of the rise of capitalism and the growth of international trade.
Nathan was sent to London, where he founded NM Rothschild, and James to Paris, where Banque Rothschild was formed. Over the years, the two sides developed a friendly, and sometimes not so friendly, rivalry.
Legend has it that Nathan was with the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo when Napoleon was defeated and raced back to London to buy British government stock before news of victory spread. He had supplied Wellington with gold to finance the campaign. One hundred and ninety years later, the banks continue to thrive on both sides of the Channel, having survived political upheaval, the threat of larger predators and family strife.
The real story about the Rothschilds connection with the battle of Waterloo is unconfirmed but says a lot about the way they operate.
The story goes that “The Rothschilds had spies watching the course of the battle and as soon as it became evident that Wellington had won, a Rothschild agent travelled at maximum speed to London, arriving hours before Wellington’s own messenger. Rothschild received the messenger and began conspicuously selling his stocks. The whole stock exchange assumed that Wellington had lost and Napoleon had won so everybody started selling, at this point, other Rothschild agents bought up huge stocks at give-away prices.
“Thus an already massive fortune was massively increased.”
Richard Stone ‘Who Are the Illuminati?’
As regards the claim that the Rothschilds have survived “the threat of larger predators”, one has to ask: what larger predators? Apart from the Rothschilds themselves nobody knows the full extent of their power and wealth. In fact the family have made a point of secrecy so whence this suggestion that they were somehow vulnerable to takeover by financially more powerful “predators”?