Société Générale

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Société Générale Group
Founded 1864
Headquarters Paris, France
Key People CEO Frédéric Oudéa, Chairman Daniel Bouton
Employees 151,000
Products Retail, corporate and investment banking, investment management

Société Générale - better known as SocGen - is a diverse, Paris-based global financial services company operating in 82 countries. Like many of its competitors, SocGen was hurt by the 2007 collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market.


SocGen began in May 1864 under a decree from Napoleon III and by 1870 had 15 Parisian branches and 32 in the provinces. The bank established a permanent office in London a year later.[1]

The SocGen Group today has assets of more than €1 trillion[2] and operates as three businesses:

  • Retail Banking and Financial Services
  • Global Investment Management and Services
  • Corporate and Investment Banking[3]

In May of 2014 Société Générale acquired the derivatives broker Newedge from Crédit Agricole. SocGen had a 50 percent stake in Newedge and bought the remaining 50 percent held by Crédit Agricole. SocGen said the full acquisition of Newedge would allow it to offer its customers trading and clearing services for both listed and over-the-counter products globally.[4] Newedge was created in 2008 from a merger of Société Générale’s Fimat unit and the futures brokerage arm of Calyon. [5]

In February 2015 Société Générale Prime Services acquired a minority stake in Global Markets Exchange Group International (GMEX Group) and said it planned to provide execution and clearing services on the exchange.

In April 2022, Société Générale said it would exit Russia by selling its entire stake in Rosbank, along with its Russian insurance operations. SocGen will take a €3.1bn hit in selling the stake to Interros Capital, founded by Russia's richest man, billionaire Vladimir Potanin. SocGen had come under scrutiny because, along with Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank and Italy’s UniCredit, SocGen is one of the western European financial institutions with the largest presence in Russia.[6] Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Key People[edit]

"Rogue trader"[edit]

In January of 2008, a single futures trader at SocGen, Jérôme Kerviel, placed more than $70 billion in unauthorized derivatives trades, leaving the bank with a $7.2 billion loss, the largest ever by a rogue trader. [7]

SocGen released its first quarter report on May 13, 2008 showing a profit decline of 23.4 percent compared to the first quarter of 2007. The bank had earlier posted a €513 million loss on the US subprime mortgage market and had posted Kerviel's actual losses in the first quarter of '08 back to the fourth quarter of '07.[8] SocGen executives have also proposed a buyback of 10 percent of the group's shares, to be decided at the 2008 AGM in late May.[9]

On September 15 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy following the so-called subprime crisis. Although affected by the Kerviel affair, Societe Generale survived the storm. It was granted a loan by the French Government in December 2008, which it repaid in full less than a year later.

On 23 September 2016, the court ordered Kerviel to pay €1 million in damages to SocGen for the crimes committed. Kerviel has lodged several complaints against SocGen that are under investigation, in response to which Société Générale has also filed suits to challenge the allegations, and a case is still ongoing relating to labor law. Jérôme Kerviel has also requested a review of his criminal trial.[10]

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain[edit]

In May 2019, SocGen completed a trial transaction of €100 million worth of tokenized covered bonds between two internal parties using the Ethereum blockchain. This experiment, dubbed an "internal startup" by SocGen, was one of many the company regularly conducts. It earned the highest credit rating from Moody's Investor Service Inc. and Fitch Ratings, two respected credit rating and risk analysis firms. According to a statement published by SocGen the month before, this experiment was meant to explore "a more efficient process for bond issuance."[11][12]

In May 2020 France's central bank announced that it had successfully completed its first test of a blockchain-based digital currency with SocGen, which issued €40 million worth of covered bonds as digital tokens and then settled them in digital euros.[13]

Société Générale’s cryptocurrency division, SG Forge, became the first company to receive a license to offer crypto services in France from the country's financial regulator on July 18, 2023. The license allows SG Forge to provide buying and selling, exchange and custody of digital assets.[14]