English translation: Société Générale (de Belgique)
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07:01 Sep 14, 2001
French to English translations [PRO] Finance (general)
French term or phrase:'Société Générale'
I am currently working on a small Flemish-English translation (a mini biography about a Belgian engineer), and am having problems with the above French phrase.
The sentence is as follows (translated into English):
In those days, 'industry' was synonymous with the 'Société Générale'.
All suggestions welcome - KudoZ points will be awarded asap.
Explanation: Your document refers to the Société Générale de Belgique (SGB), which was Belgium's largest industrial and banking holding group for most of the last century until it was taken over by the French Suez Group in the late 80s.
Please note that the SGB had nothing to do with the French Société Générale, created after the 2nd World War -- contrary to what many of my colleagues have written.
Because the SGB's economic power derived from the whole of the Belgian empire, including the mining riches of Congo, its size and influence were immense in relation to the small country that Belgium is -- hence the reference to industry being synonymous with it.
The history of the SGB goes back to 1822 -- before Belgium was even born -- when King William I of Holland created the "Société Générale des Pays-Bas pour favoriser l'industrie nationale". After Belgium became an independent kingdom in 1830, the company became the "Société Générale pour favoriser l'industrie nationale" until 1905, when it was renamed the Société Générale de Belgique.