In the post-war period, Crédit Foncier de France and the Sous-Comptoir des entrepreneurs were gradually given the responsibility, by the State, of a host of general interest assignments, the most prominent of which was managing premiums and subsidised loans that were created by a law passed on July 21, 1950. They played a very important role in financing housing and grew exponentially.
Reconstruction and modernisation of the economy were the main priorities upon the country’s liberation.
From 1945, the business of Crédit Foncier de France and that of the Sous-Comptoir des entrepreneurs expanded and developed considerably at the behest of the State, which was inspired by economic considerations and the state of buildings and homes in France. Collaboration with the public authorities culminated in the implementation of the subsidised construction sector, with management responsibility being granted to the two companies.
This system for subsidising housing was a real turning point for the two companies, which had become the executive arm of the post-war housing strategy. General interest responsibilities, led separately or together, were decisive factors in their recovery from the difficult interwar period.
In January 1945, he became the governor of Crédit Foncier de France and was a driving force behind the company’s renaissance until 1955.
“Crédit Foncier, which had to endure three wars, is now facing other challenges […].
However, although the company’s business slowed under the Occupation, we are confident it is poised to play an important role in the major lending operations that will be required for France to rebuild from the ground up and to restore economic life to the country.”
Henri Deroy, Governor of Crédit Foncier, during the Shareholders’ Meeting on 6 June 1945.
The appeal made by Abbé Pierre on February 1, 1954
The homelessness scandal surged to the media forefront with the appeal of Abbé Pierre in February 1954, which led to the construction of emergency housing for the homeless. Crédit Foncier de France contributed to the effort by issuing 1 million notes of 5,000 francs each. The income from these securities was used to finance the construction of these housing schemes.
Up until that point, measures promoting social housing had been moderate. However, there was a precedent for wide-scale measures being undertaken by the public powers to stimulate the recovery in private property construction. In fact, the law of June 1, 1948 liberalised the rents of new housing in order to enhance the attractiveness of property investment. More importantly, the law of July 21, 1950 and subsequent official texts created building incentives that were payable over 20 years. Companies benefiting from the incentives could borrow a sizeable portion of the cost of works through a performance guarantee from the State. Crédit Foncier de France was responsible for paying out these incentives.
Banking intervention encouraged
The system of incentives and special loans developed in 1950 was designed as a temporary solution to the construction finance problem. In the 1960s, the housing crisis eased and the State sought to disengage. The subsidised sector had failed to resolve the financing problem of certain housing properties. The public authorities encouraged the intervention of banks through a series of measures in an effort to broaden the means of financing the housing sector and to draw down public resources allocated to this issue.
Although the subsidised sector remained core businesses for the two companies, the new backdrop contributed to the Sous-Comptoir des entrepreneurs diversifying its portfolio of business activities.
Crédit Foncier, for its part, was included in this new property finance strategy.
Companies: driving social progress
The new responsibilities in housing finance taken on by Crédit Foncier de France, marked the company’s return to prosperity and led to a veritable renaissance in the business of the Sous-Comptoir des entrepreneurs. They entailed substantial structural reforms and the modernisation of work methods, including adapting to the computer age.
From the end of the 1960s, banking competition in property finance began to intensify, leading banks to take a more sales-oriented approach that, in turn, led to greater decentralisation. From a personnel management point of view, the paternalistic practices, left over from the end of the 19th century, combined with post-Liberation labour laws to grant employees a host of workplace, material and intellectual advantages.