The 2012/02/02 at 13:11
BTP Banque is positioned as a key interlocutor for public buildings and works (referred to as “BTP” in French) professionals. Its range of services stretches from short-term management, for example operation financing, to investment programmes of all types including real-estate projects. “We are a specialised bank that accompanies companies active in public buildings and works,” describes Claude Lavisse, Chairman of the establishment’s board. “In this capacity, we develop products adapted to the needs of companies and organisations from this sector of activity.”
On the strength of its broad knowledge of this specific sector of activity, the bank offers a comprehensive range of services to support clients in all stages of their development. Solutions thus range from the management of receivables and investments to that of human resources and flows. BTP Banque also offers specific products adapted to the sector, such as contract guarantees necessary for the obtaining and completing of projects on public and private markets. As Claude Lavisse explains, “contractual relations existing in the BTP sector between a company and a builder necessitate the provision of different types of guarantees. We orchestrate and distribute this type of guarantee for companies.” BTP Banque clients may be companies from the professional sector just as they may be institutional organisations including employer federations, paid-leave funds, mutual insurance companies and so on. The bank has made the choice of not gearing itself towards big companies; instead, its priority is to support many SMEs with a regional or national presence. “Our privileged targets are companies with turnovers between 1.5 and 30 million euros,” specifies the Chairman.
The establishment groups together a number of entities dedicated to different activities. One of these is BTP Capital Investissement, a capital development company capable of intervening in long-term financing for companies. “We have also developed a consultancy company, BTP Capital Conseil, that offers its services for company handovers and transmissions,” details Claude Lavisse. “For this, we work in close collaboration with dedicated cells of BTP federations in order to make available the most adapted offer. The services of BTP Capital Conseil are aimed at persons wishing to sell or take over a company. In this way, we place the seller in touch with potential buyers; we take part in initial discussions, in price definition, while also offering advice on tax optimisation for example. Next, BTP Banque brings its financing solutions.” Thanks to the asset management specialist Ecofi Investissements (a subsidiary of the Groupe Crédit Coopératif to which BTP Banque belongs), BTP Banque offers investment solutions that conform with the client’s priorities (UCITS, fixed-term accounts, negotiable debt securities…), with the aim of optimising company cash flow.
BTP Banque was set up in 1919 by the French Building Syndicate Chambers for the Building Industry and the equivalent for Public Works, in order to meet the difficulties faced by BTP companies in obtaining bank loans and credit. The bank was nationalised in the 1980s and joined the Compagnie du BTP, a group that was dismantled in 1996. At that point, BTP Banque became part of the Groupe Crédit Coopératif following an external growth operation. The latter today holds 100 % of the capital, but BTP Banque remains an autonomous structure. The supervisory board is primarily made up of professionals from the public buildings and works sector.
Close links with its clientele, currently the driving force of BTP Banque, stem from this history interwoven with that of the public buildings and works sector. BTP Banque is present in all regions of France thanks to a network of 39 agencies and some 200 employees. Due to its close ties with professional bodies, it is very familiar with the concrete issues faced by public buildings and works professionals. As the various federations are organised to operate with regional and departmental representatives, it is all the more important for the bank to promote its asset of geographical proximity, especially when the economic context, and the ensuing economic and financial implications that are so important in company balance, remains delicate.
“In recent years, despite a difficult economic context, the number of projects has not diminished, allowing activ-ity to be maintained,” explains Claude Lavisse. “But for reasons related to the crisis, it is difficult to find appropriate price levels. A rupture took place at the end of 2008 and the start of 2009. Many managers thought, at that time, that activity would drop heavily and that it would be necessary to guarantee extremely low prices. For reasons that are difficult to understand, we have remained at those price levels even if they are not justified today. There is comp-etition to be the lowest bidder, which is not desirable. So close-range support is all the more judicious.” The climate of uncertainty is even stronger with the legislative changes introduced by the Scellier Bill (tax breaks for works to increase building energy performance) or the rise in VAT in France – measures undertaken recently by the government with quite a large impact on the sector. “It is difficult to imagine the concrete consequences in the next two to three years,” he continues. “But let’s not forget that up till now, the level of activity has been satisfying.”
Thanks to its mid-term 2012-2015, plan, BTP Banque wishes to further improve its products, processes, online bank services and global dematerialisation. “The idea is to pursue the bank’s fundamentals while perfecting the service provided,” indicates Claude Lavisse. “Alongside this improvement strategy, we are seeking to bring new ideas to support companies in their growth.” An emphasis on action to promote project management financing is therefore one of the axes of development defined by this plan, namely in the context of public-private partnerships. BTP Banque frequently intervenes in projects of this type, generally for contracts worth between 2 and 10 million euros. “We also seek solutions allowing the widening of our offer to real-estate professionals, while staying primarily focused on SMEs,” adds the Chairman. “We are also interested in bank insurance, wishing to offer insurance products directly related to a company’s activity. On top of these missions, we are also keen to continue more operational partnerships with professional organisations. We are already the leading distributors of microloans to apprentices in the public buildings and works sector. Finally, one of our major objectives is to pay more interest in the company head by offering wealth and asset management services.”