| Léon Lambert |
(financier, Belgian nobility)
|Born||2 July 1928|
|Died||26 May 1987 (Age 58)|
Erasmus Hospital, Brussels
Cause of death
|Alma mater||Yale, Oxford University, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies|
|Member of||Bilderberg/Steering committee, Trilateral Commission|
|Victim of||premature death|
Banking heir and Bilderberg Steering Committee member and financier who suddenly died aged 58
He was great-great-grandson of Samuel Lambert, who established the family-owned Banque Lambert in 1840. It merged with Banque de Bruxelles (run by 9 times Bilderberger Louis Camu) in 1974, forming Banque Bruxelles Lambert, one of Belgium's largest banks.
Léon Lambert was the eldest son of Henri Lambert and Johanna von Reininghaus, came from a large Belgian banking family that spanned three generations. It had been inaugurated by Cain Samuel Lambert (1806-1875) - Leon's great-grandfather - who, following the second marriage of his mother-in-law to Lazare Richtenberger, the representative of the Rothschilds in Brussels, had been introduced to the world of finance; very quickly, he founded Banque Lambert, which would become the privileged representative of the Rothschilds in Belgium. His son Léon (1851-1919), who was nicknamed the “king’s banker,” continued his father’s work and financed a large part of Leopold II’s colonial projects in the Congo. Then Henri (1887-1933), Leon's son, succeeded his father, and it was under his leadership that Banque Lambert became independent of the Rothschilds to no longer be their mere Belgian branch.
From the first years following the birth of Léon Lambert, the eldest of the fourth generation, the fortunes of the family business (Banque Lambert) seemed to be recovering from the shock of the stock market crash of 1929 and the crisis that followed. Very quickly, however - when he had not even reached his sixth birthday - Léon Lambert lost his father. It was the mother of the young child who took over the family business, awaiting the coming of age of her eldest son.
During the war Léon Lambert continued his education in Bern first, then in America. Once the war was over, he continued his graduate studies at Yale, Oxford, and finally at the Institut des Hautes Études Internationales in Geneva, where he obtained his degree in March 1950.
In 1950, a year after reaching adulthood, the young baron took over the management of Banque H. Lambert. Under his leadership, Banque Lambert experienced spectacular growth. It was also at this time that Camille Gutt, then Ernest de Selliers de Moranville joined Banque Lambert.
In the summer of 1953, Banque Lambert absorbed the Banque de Reports et de Dépôts with its entire business, thus considerably increasing its capital. The same year, Léon Lambert founded the European Company for Industry and Finance, then turned to the Congolese colony for which he created the holding company, Compagnie d’Afrique. This, after being absorbed by the European Company for Industry and Finance, will become the Compagnie d'Outremer pour l’Industrie et la Finance. In 1959, Banque Lambert became the main shareholder in this company.
In 1960, when the Congo gained independence, he continued his business in the former colony by creating the Société Financière pour les Pays d'Outremer. The purpose of this company was to pool the risks that arose following the independence of sub-Saharan countries, but also to avoid potential nationalization or confiscation of property that belonged to the former colonial powers. In the course of his business in the Congo, he met Mobutu, whom he describes as a "cordial but firm interlocutor"
During the sixties, the career of Léon Lambert is in full expansion. Banque Lambert absorbed many banks, and the baron sat on the boards of several dozen companies, directly or indirectly controlled by Banque Lambert. In 1964, in the context of this considerable expansion and inspired by the financial practices of the Anglo-Saxon world, Léon Lambert attempted what today is considered to be the first Belgian public takeover bid (PO). The baron used Compagnie Lambert pour l'Industrie et la Finance, of which his bank was the main shareholder, to make a public takeover bid against Sofina. However, against his expectations, the largest, most important Belgian bank Société Générale de Belgique declared a counter-takeover bid and succeeded in taking possession of Sofina.
Almost ten years later, in 1972, Compagnie Lambert merged with two companies, Brufina and Cofinidus, to form Groupe Bruxelles Lambert. Shortly after, in 1975, Banque Lambert merged with Banque de Bruxelles to form Banque Bruxelles Lambert (BBL), which then became the second largest Belgian bank. Alexandre Lamfalussy, negotiator for the Banque de Bruxelles, had "hesitated for a long time before embracing the Lambert name" in the name of the new bank, and this mainly for fear of losing his Arab clientele. Léon Lambert had financially supported many Israeli causes, and the name would have harmed business with the Arab world, which is largely hostile to the State of Israel.
During the 1970s, the baron played a decidedly international role at a time when "multinational banking" had "gradually taken root in financial mores". Banque Lambert invests its capital in many foreign countries. In addition, the baron established two subsidiaries in the United States of America, the Brussels Lambert Company and the Drexel Burnham Lambert, which is hardly surprising when one is aware of his affinities with the American world, he was notably a familiar with the New York homosexual scene. His intervention in the American stock market was to be crowned with success, which earned him many criticisms, with part of the Belgian press accusing him of turning away from Europe and Belgium.
The last years of Léon Lambert's career will be less happy. Faced with the crisis of the 1980s and heavy indebtedness, the Bruxelles Lambert Group found itself short of liquidity, and consequently unable to pay its shareholders their dividends. In search of refinancing, the Bruxelles Lambert Group will let Albert Frère join it; however, as relations between the two financiers deteriorated, Albert Frère ousted the baron from the group, who “gradually saw himself dispossessed of his jewels”.
Leon Lambert died on Thursday 28 May 1987, aged 58, having reportedly gone into cardiac arrest 10 days before and "lapsed into a coma from which he never emerged, according to officials of Drexel Burnham Lambert, the Wall Street investment firm in which he had an interest."
Events Participated in
|Bilderberg/1971||23 April 1971||25 April 1971||US|
|The 20th Bilderberg, 89 guests|
|Bilderberg/1972||21 April 1972||23 April 1972||Belgium|
Hotel La Reserve
|The 21st Bilderberg, 102 guests. It spawned the Trilateral Commission.|
|Bilderberg/1975||25 April 1975||27 April 1975||Turkey|
Golden Dolphin Hotel
|The 24th Bilderberg Meeting, 98 guests|
|Bilderberg/1977||22 April 1977||24 April 1977||Imperial Hotel|
|The 25th Bilderberg, held in Torquay, England.|
|Bilderberg/1978||21 April 1978||23 April 1978||US|
|The 26th Bilderberg, held in the US|
|Bilderberg/1979||27 April 1979||29 April 1979||Austria|
Clubhotel Schloss Weikersdorf
|27th Bilderberg, 95 guests, Austria|
|Bilderberg/1980||18 April 1980||20 April 1980||Germany|
|The 28th Bilderberg, held in West Germany, unusually exposed by the Daily Mirror|
|Bilderberg/1981||15 May 1981||17 May 1981||Switzerland|
|The 29th Bilderberg|
|Bilderberg/1982||14 May 1982||16 May 1982||Norway|
|The 30th Bilderberg, held in Norway.|
|Bilderberg/1983||13 May 1983||15 May 1983||Canada|
|The 31st Bilderberg, held in Canada|
|Bilderberg/1984||11 May 1984||13 May 1984||Sweden|
|The 32nd Bilderberg, held in Sweden|
|Bilderberg/1986||25 April 1986||27 April 1986||Scotland|
|The 34th Bilderberg, 109 participants|
|Bilderberg/1987||24 April 1987||26 April 1987||Italy|
|35th Bilderberg, in Italy, 106 participants|
- A.-M Dutrieue, « Le baron Léon Lambert, un banquier et financier belge d’envergure internationale du XXe siècle », op.cit., p. 6
- « L'affaire Sofina (I) », dans Courrier hebdomadaire du CRISP, no 269, 1965, p. 10).
- A.-M Dutrieue, « Le baron Léon Lambert, un banquier et financier belge d’envergure internationale du XXe siècle », op. cit., p. 12-13.
- P.-F Smets, « Léon Lambert », op. cit., p. 235.
- V. Pouillard, « Lambert, Léon (Baron) », dans G. Kurgan-van Hentenryk et E. Buyst, 100 grands patrons du XXe siècle en Belgique, Bruxelles, Top managment, 1999, p. 139.