Former managing director, Almanij
Education: Catholic University of Leuven, BS; LLD; University of Chicago, MA.
Career: Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago; Lazar Freres; Bekaert, 1984–1992, operational and administrative duties; Almanij, 1992–2003, managing director; Agfa-Gevaert, 2002–2003, managing director.
■ Ferdinand Verdonck was born in Belgium and left his country to attend an American university. After graduation he stayed in the United States for a few years to work at large corporations. He returned to Belgium and in 1992 was appointed the managing director of Almanij, a Belgian financial holding company. Verdonck stayed at Almanij for the rest of his career, leading the company and its subsidiaries to financial success.
Verdonck received a degree in economics and a doctorate in law from the Catholic University of Leuven. He also received a master of arts degree in economics from the University of Chicago. Finished with his education Verdonck entered the business world at the Continental Illinois Bank in Chicago. He worked there for several years before moving to Lazar Freres and Company in New York. In 1984 Verdonck returned to Belgium to work for Bekaert, where he had operational and administrative duties. In 1992 Verdonck was appointed to the post of managing director and member of the executive committee of Algemene Maatschappij voor Nijverheidskrediet (General Company for Industrial Credit), otherwise known as Almanij.
Almanij was started in 1931 as part of a restructuring during financial crisis. Once a commercial bank, the company regrouped its industrial assets in Belgium and Hungary into a new holding company called Almanij. From the beginning the company focused on long-term stability and profitability. Under Verdonck's guidance and into 2004 those were the characteristics for which the company was known. Almanij became an international system of financial organizations and groups. In 2004 it consisted of four sections headed by four companies operated independently of one another, each having its own purpose. One of the largest companies was the KBC Groupe de Bancassurance, a private banking and insurance company in Belgium that focused mainly on small and medium-sized businesses. Another company was Kredietbank Luxembourg, a group of private banks mainly in Spain, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Great Britain, Ireland, and Monaco. The third company, Gevaert, was an investment company with stakes in many leading media and technology sector stocks, one of the largest of which was Agfa-Gevaert, the printing and image specialist. The last group was Almafin, a leasing and financing company focused on the leisure and theme park sector.
Interested in new ways to improve business for Almanij, in 1998 Verdonck worked on a complex merger to create Belgium's largest banking and insurance group. This merger fused Kredietbank (managed by Almanij), CERA (a cooperative), Fidelitas (also managed by Almanij), and ABB (owned by MRBB) into two companies. The new group, which was controlled by the shareholders of Almanij and the holding entity CERA Holding, became the market leader in a number of banking segments.
In 2000 Verdonck discussed the idea of opening a bank in Argentina, a country open to such opportunities. The objective was to transfer a model of the bank specialized to Argentina, because the market in Argentina seemed rife for a service such as the one Urquijo Bank had to offer. Argentina seemed to have gained some stability, and the prospects were very good. In 2004 the options were still being discussed. In 2002 Verdonck became managing director of Agfa-Gevaert.
The supervisory board of NASDAQ Deutschland met in 2003 to elect its chairman and to appoint the members of the management board, and Verdonck (NASDAQ Europe) was elected. According to the Exchange Handbook Web site Jim Weber, NASDAQ Deutschland, commented, "The make-up of the Supervisory and Management Boards reflects a high degree of national and international expertise. The market model gives banks and private investors a tailor-made trading vehicle that offers efficiency, transparency, and competitive prices" (February 26, 2003). On June 30, 2003, Verdonck retired as managing director and member of the executive committee of Almanij. Verdonck was a director at other companies and was involved in a number of cultural and social organizations.
See also entry on Almanij NV in International Directory of Company Histories .
"Almanij: The Financial Sector," April 6, 2003, http://uk.biz.yahoo.com/p/a/almb.br.html .
"Almanij NV," http://www.hoovers.com/free/co/factsheet.xhtml?COID=102178 .
"Bayer Parts with 30 Percent Agfa Share," Printing World , June 10, 2002, http://www.dotprint.com/newspast/02_06_10.shtml .
"Commission Merger Task Force Nod for Big Belgian Banking Group," European Report , May 27, 1998.
"Goldman Sachs Buys Agfa Share," Printing World , June 10, 2002, p. 6.
"Newly Established NASDAQ Deutschland Announces Board Appointments," February 26, 2003, http://www.exchangehandbook.co.uk/news_story.cfm?id=41514 .
—Catherine Victoria Donaldson