Re-opening of liner services with the 13 ships that had survived the war plus several chartered vessels: anchored off Le Havre and Bordeaux, these vessels were used to provide services along the Western coast of France, regularly calling at Nantes, Brest, Boulogne and Dunkirk. Business boosted by demand for materials to rebuild regions in the East and North. Relaunch of services between Dieppe and Grimsby, between Newport, Swansea (Bristol Channel), Caen and Le Havre. Grangemouth, Scotland's second port, included in this network. Involvement of Worms & Cie in the new Polish-Soviet Economic, Agricultural and Forestry Consortium (beginning of the year).
Polish-Soviet War (February 1919-March 1921)
Opening of a branch in Rotterdam (March), where a substantial number of ships were gathered in readiness for the forthcoming shipments of coal from the Ruhr to France as part of the reparations process (200,000 to 250,000 tonnes per month) and the vast quantities of goods being imported into Holland from America, a market in which the company was involved at the same time as reopening the services with Le Havre halted during the hostilities. A branch also established at this time in Hamburg. Takeover of a coal briquette and ovoid manufacturing plant in Bayonne (April).
Turkish-Greek Conflict (May 1919-July 1923)
Treaty of Versailles (28 June): foundation of the League of Nations, changes in Europe's borders (return of Alsace-Lorraine to France, Danzig given the status of Free City, emergence of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Finland, the Baltic States, etc.), dismantling of the Ottoman Empire (Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, etc.), economic sanctions against Germany (occupation of the Ruhr by Belgian and French troops)
Drop in coal production in the UK and slump in exports (- 52%), now subject to restrictions: establishment by the British authorities of a list of "preferred" shippers
Negotiations with the Coal Controller in Britain, the latter refusing to recognise Worms & Cie's "exporter" status (July). Enquiries made by Bordeaux and Bayonne into the possibilities for bringing Spanish coal into local markets. American coal also offered another alternative to make up for the shortfall in French mining output. Opening of a branch in Antwerp (August), to which part of the German coal shipped from the Ruhr was directed, the new branch also acting as an agency for Worms vessels operating on the Bordeaux line. Establishment of a branch in Danzig, the port selected as the hub for a new shipping operation to Poland and Eastern Prussia, with the possibility of calls in Königsberg. Contacts with the authorities in Britain and in France to obtain coal export licences (October). Pressure on the part of industrialists in Bayonne to force re-opening of shipping services with French ports (November). Worms office opened in Archangelsk, to secure a foothold on traffic with Russia. The "Séphora-Worms" set sail from Boulogne to Riga carrying war materials on the outward leg and linen on the return. Completion of the construction of buildings and plant at the Le Trait shipyards, where a health insurance fund, La Fraternelle, was established (December).
Election of Hypolite Worms to the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Central Committee of French Shipowners. Opening of further outlets in central Europe: Warsaw and Prague (February), for purposes of acquiring hinterland freight to feed into the Danzig and Hamburg lines. Opening of a branch at Duisburg, in the heart of the Ruhr, to handle "reparations" coal on behalf of the public utilities (Société Gazière d'Achats en Commun des Charbons and Office des Charbons des Secteurs Électriques) and organise onward shipment to Antwerp, Ghent or Rotterdam and, from there, to Dunkirk for transhipment on to Marseilles. Agencies also opened in Lille and Strasbourg to assist in handling the traffic transiting through Dunkirk, Boulogne, Le Havre, Antwerp and Rotterdam. At the same time, the Bordeaux branch extended its action to Toulouse and Rochefort to step up retail coal sales and an agency was opened in Lyon. Involvement in the foundation of the Franco-Polish Chamber of Commerce (March).
Embargo on coal exports from Cardiff, Newcastle and Scotland (February-March)
Sixfold increase in the mean price per tonne of coal sold by merchant importers
Laying of the first keel (dry dock 3) at the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime (6 May). Collapse of the firm in charge of building the 240 houses at Le Trait with only one road completed and some forty buildings left half-finished. No less than 40 secondary establishments registered in the name of Worms & Cie (September), the company being central agent – among others – for the Cosmopolitan Line (U.S. and Europe), Steven Line (U.K. and Continent), Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (West Coast of Norway), the Warsaw Limited Company for Trade and Shipping. Appointment of Hypolite Worms to the Coal Consultative Committee (November). Purchase by Hypolite Worms of the shares of Marie Lucy Errington Josse, who had died on 6 March 1919.
Acquisition of the "Caudebec", "Jumièges" and "Yainville", all vessels suitable for carrying the heavy bulk or outsize consignments (cement, lime, plaster, iron) so urgently required in the worst damaged regions. These vessels placed in service on the Baltic line and for the carriage of Polish timber. Opening from Port Said of a trading post in Haifa (Israel), and of an agency in Limoges from Bordeaux to supply the porcelain industry. Inclusion of shipbuilding on the official register of company activities (January).
Franco-Polish Military Alliance (19 February)
Involvement in the establishment of the Société Normande de Distribution d'Eau, de Gaz et d'Électricité, founded by the Société Lyonnaise des Eaux et de l'Éclairage (February).
General strike of miners, railwaymen and transport workers in Britain (April)
Still reeling from the endless stoppages at mines in the UK, Worms & Cie was approached by mine owners in the Saar trying to secure a foothold on the market in competition with British coal, in Marseilles and Bordeaux in particular. Following lengthy negotiations, head office agreed to give its agreement in principle, to prevent losing business to its own rivals, but on the condition of being granted exclusive rights for the sale of bunker coal supplies. The company also took on the task of shipping 120,000 to 250,000 of pit props per year from the Landes to the Saar via its branches in Bordeaux and Rotterdam, with Duisburg and Antwerp handling the shipment of coal from the Saar to France. Advertisement in the local papers of the sailings from Le Havre of the steamships "Suzanne-et-Marie" bound for Dunkirk and Danzig, "Pomerol" for Hamburg, a service calling at Bremen, "Listrac" for Rotterdam and Antwerp, "Bidassoa" for Boulogne and Bordeaux, "Haut-Brion" for Nantes, "Pessac" for the Bristol Channel, "Ville-de-Caen" for Brest and Lorient, "Ita" for Dublin and "Cérès" for Western Norway-Iceland, these last three vessels being operated under charter (November). Launch of the first ship built by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime (29 November), the "Capitaine-Bonelli", a 4,700 tonne coal ship manufactured for the shipping company, Les Armateurs Français. The launch ceremony was attended by a number of well-known figures, including Alphonse Rio, Under-Secretary of State for the Merchant Navy, Hypolite Worms, Georges Majoux and Henri Nitot, Secretary General of the ACSM. The press was highly voluble in its reports on the 24-hectare shipyard with its 8 dry docks, workshops, sawmill, etc.... as well as the new town to cater to the influx of new residents (population boosted from 380 to 3,000 inhabitants) comprising 200 workman's dwellings, divided into over 300 houses, all enjoying the benefits of gardens, a home economics school, a dispensary, shops, a cinema, etc.
Coal exports to France halved during the year. Over-production at French mines in the wake of coal shortages and fears for the future
Launch by the Chantiers du Trait of the "Chef-Mécanicien-Armand-Blanc" built for the Société Commerciale du Nord (February). Following the line to Danzig and Königsberg (under fire from competition from the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique), a second service was launched to the Baltic States with ships serving Le Havre-Reval (Tallinn) in Estonia and Riga in Latvia, occasionally calling at Memel (Klaipeda), Libau, etc. First sailing to Latvia with the "Yainville" (March). Inauguration of a service (in close liaison with the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique) to ports between Dunkirk and Bordeaux by a newly created shipping company, the Compagnie Nantaise de Navigation à Vapeur. In reprisal, the "La-Mailleraye", a coastal shipper purchased in Holland specialising in tramping brought in as reinforcement on the Worms line. Takeover by the Asiatic Petroleum Cy, a subsidiary of the Shell Group, of the organisation that Worms & Cie had put in place from 1898, as the company's general agent in Egypt, Palestine and Syria (i.e. 65 agencies or sub-agencies set up by Worms in the Middle East), Port Said branch still remaining in charge of tanker consignment sales and Canal transit operations (April).
Genoa Conference (10 April-19 May) attended by representatives of 34 countries (excluding the United States of America) for purposes of re-establishing monetary stability by the adoption of a currency conversion system based on either gold or a "key currency"
Launch by the Le Trait yards of the "Capitaine-Le-Diabat" for the Société Commerciale du Nord (May). Negotiations with the Naval Ministry over the supply contract in Beirut for naval vessels based in Syria (July). Commissioning of the "Léoville" (September) and "Sauternes" (November), the first of a series of 4 small capacity but relatively swift cargo ships ordered by Worms from ACSM for use in delivering various commodities to destinations on the French coast. Decision to pull out of the agreement to represent the Saar mines in Marseilles, foreign ships preferring to take on British bunker coal, especially at a time when a new rival, the Société Nouvelle d'Affrètement (offshoot of PLM) had started to work out of the port (October). Establishment of a General Shipping Division in Le Havre under the control of Naval Commander Robert Delteil, a step taken to cater to the ever growing number of shipping companies on the market. Closure of the Société d'Études Industrielles et Commerciales, of which Worms had been one of the original participants in 1918 (December).
Addition to the fleet of the "Pontet-Canet" (ex-"Viola" acquired from the French government). Work started on examining various plans for shipping coal from Ludwigshafen (on the other side of the Rhine from Mannheim) to Bordeaux via Rotterdam, and pit props on wagons from Bordeaux to Ludwigshafen. Occasional deliveries of Saar coal to Marseilles and Bordeaux, where Worms & Cie, keen to retain its status as an importer of British coal, considered that "it would not be good policy for us to attempt to impose [this] coal on the market at the expense of our British suppliers." Launch of the "Barsac" (January) and "Cérons" (June) by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime, these being the third and fourth vessels in a series initiated in 1922 (January). Re-opening with the "Sauternes" of the direct Bordeaux-Antwerp service that had existed in the pre-war period, with sailings every two weeks alternating with those on the Bordeaux-Danzig line to ensure a weekly service between Bordeaux and Antwerp (March). Launch by ACSM of the "Capitaine-Jean-Laborie" for its client, the Société Commerciale du Nord (20 March) and of the "Dionée" for the Compagnie Africaine d'Armement (27 November). New housebuilding programme for the district in Le Trait to be called "Les Américains" and start of "blue bus" (car bleu) services to link the village with the outside world. Agreement with the Nantaise in a bid to stamp out its competition on lines between Dunkirk and Bayonne (August). Opening of offices in Ghent (Belgium) and Alexandrette (Syria). Closure of those in Saint-Nazaire, Lille, Archangelsk and Cairo (November). Conversion of the branches in Algiers and Port Said to the shipping business to offset the inevitable shrinkage of the coal market, a market where Worms nevertheless continued to be the main Canal area supplier.
Sharp new influx of British coal on to the French market: worried by onslaught from its rivals, the British authorities opting to boost exports in hitherto unknown proportions to offset shortages caused by the miners' strike in the Ruhr in May
Launch by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the "Vaccares" for its client, the Société Anonyme de Navigation Daher (5 January), the "Balidar", for the Dieppe Chamber of Commerce (3 September) and the "Leo" for the Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskabs A/S - Norway (14 December). La Fraternelle transformed into a building society to enable the inhabitants of Le Trait to buy their own homes. Capsize of the "Hypolite-Worms", the oldest ship in the fleet (42 year), after a collision with the British steamer, the "Sarthe", off Cape La Hève (Le Havre). Worms took control of the Compagnie Rouennaise de Déchargements, in partnership with Powell-Duffryn and via the Compagnie Charbonnière de Manutentions et de Transports (May). Delivery by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the "Château-Lafite", this being the first of two vessels specially designed to serve ports on the Baltic, including Petrograd (June).
Temporary or final closure of 300 to 400 mines in Britain in the first half of the year. Nomination of Winston Churchill to the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer (May). Devaluation of the gold franc, spelling ruin for the property-owning French middle classes (June)
Adoption of the Dawes Plan: re-evaluation and rescheduling of war reparations payments due from Germany over a five-year period, evacuation of the Ruhr by Belgian and French troops (July)
Brand names "Boulets Worms" and "Anthraboulets Worms" deposited in Le Havre (July). Closure of the office in Beirut and sale of stevedoring equipment(1) to the Société France-Méditerranée (December). Competition from the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique on the Danzig line. Opening of a branch in Mersina (Turkey). Plans to set up coal bunkering facilities in Port Sudan and Perim (Red Sea) in reprisal for the competition exerted on the Port Said branch by these ports. Proposed agreements with several German mines. Heavy traffic on the North Sea from coal purchased for French companies from the Kohlensyndikat in Essen or industrial groups such as Klöckner-Duisburg and by ship consignment sales, including those for the Delmas-Vieljeux shipping company delivering AOF timber shipments to Rotterdam.
Increased production by French mines.
Coal in abundant supply in the Ruhr and at Polish mines.
Worms & Cie (together with Lazard Brothers & Co.) acquired stakes in the Société Financière Française et Coloniale, a holding company of the Octave Homberg Group specialising in the development of trade links with overseas countries – particularly Indochina. Appointment of Hypolite Worms to the post of Chairman of the national and international coastal shipping section of the Central Committee of French Shipowners (January). Launch from the stocks at the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the cargo vessel "Château-Yquem", sister ship to the "Château-Lafite" (February), the "Lynx", for the Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskabs A/S - Norway (22 March) and the "Lucie-Delmas", for Delmas Frères et Vieljeux (6 May).
British pound rejoins the convertible gold standard at its pre-1914 parity (May-December), a measure causing deflation, unemployment and a strike that would paralyse Britain in 1926
Retirement of Georges Majoux, the partner particularly responsible for the Chantiers du Trait. Under his leadership, 24 vessels of different types had been launched and the village of Le Trait had become a "workers'" garden city with nearly 4,000 inhabitants. G. Majoux shares transferred to Hypolite Worms (2/3rds) and Michel Goudchaux (1/3rd) and new common acts of association signed showing a total of 20 branches in France and 17 in other countries, a fleet of 23 ships for a total weight of 43,350 tonnes, in other words 40% more than in 1914. Launch by ACSM of the "Nova" for the Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskabs A/S – Norway (26 July), the "Rennes" for the Chemins de Fer de l'État (23 August) and the "Ostrevent" for the Société des Hauts-Fourneaux, Forges et Aciéries de Denain & Anzin (30 September). Nomination of Hypolite Worms to the post of Treasurer of the Central Committee of French Shipowners. It was at about this time that H. Worms mentioned to one of his friends, René Thion de La Chaume, Chairman of the Bank of Indochina, that he would be interested in bringing in someone from outside to strengthen the management team.
Purchase of the merchant vessel, the "Rheinland", commissioned in September under the new name of "Lussac" and used with the "Château-Lafite" and "Château-Yquem" for carrying timber, cellulose and, occasionally, coal, between Baltic, Polish and French ports. Election of Hypolite Worms to the Board of Directors of the Société Française d'Entreprises de Dragages et de Travaux Publics - SFEDTP, a subsidiary of the Homberg Group (January).
General strike in the United Kingdom (February-November)
Launch by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the "Fleurus", for their client Anticosti Shipping Co. Ltd - Canada (28 March) and the "Soroka" for the Det Norsk Russiske D/S A/S - Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab A/S - Norway (21 November). Signature of a contract with the Soviet merchant fleet, Sovtorgflot, under which Worms & Cie undertook to establish and operate regular shipping services between Le Havre and/or Dunkirk and Leningrad with twice monthly direct sailings to carry "Sovtorgflot" consignments or those of other Soviet organisations established in France or in the USSR entrusted to "Sovtorgflot" (May), these services being provided by the vessels "Yainville", "Jumièges", "Château-Latour", "Caudebec", "Château-Palmer", etc. "Séphora-Worms" sold for scrap after 35 years at sea (November).
Fall in deliveries of British coal to France from 8 million in 1925 to 2 ½ million tonnes,10 months of strike action, pickets blocking railway lines and ports, with shipping paralysed having brought complete chaos to the sector. Breach thus opened for rival mainland European collieries to launch their attack on the market
Purchase of coal from local sources by the branches located in Germany and Poland. Relationship established with the Établissements Trautmann (Alsace) from which the company obtained stop-gap supplies from the Ruhr and Belgium. Death of Louise Emma Delavigne, daughter of Séphora and Hypolite Worms, the founder, and sister of Lucien Worms (10 December). Withdrawal from the Société Financière Française et Coloniale.
Services to Riga increasingly less frequent. By contrast, regular shipping services maintained to Danzig, and, more occasionally, Königsberg and Reval. List drawn up of agents and contacts in ports where the company was not established in any way: Salmon Frères in Lorient, Delmas Frères & Vieljeux in La Rochelle, C.M. Powilewicz in Nice, E. Arnaud in Mazamet, Louis Villeneuve in Sète, the Steven Line in Edinburgh, James & Holder in Bristol, John Moses (Newport) Ltd in Newport, L.G. Joffreys & Co. in Swansea, Browne Gevelke & Co. in London, John Sutcliffe & Son in Birmingham, David Alexander & Sons in Dundee, W. MacCalla & Co. in Belfast, John O'Sullivan & Sons in Port Talbot, Minhe in Ghent, Warsaw Limited Company for Trade and Shipping in Lods (Pologne), Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab in Bergen (Norway), Steinmeyer & Co. in Bremen, M. Heinrich in Berlin. Launch of the cod fishing boats "Adriatique" and "Caucasique" by Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime for La Morue Française & Sécheries in Fécamp (1 February). Discussions with industry organisations and the public authorities into coal imports and the issue of maintaining or raising customs and excise duties (February-June). Speech by Hypolite Worms at the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime, at the time of the launch of the petrol tanker "Loing" built for the French Navy (4 April). The "Keret" built for the Det Norsk Russiske D/S A/S - Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab A/S – Norway launched at Le Trait (19 April). Jacques Barnaud, graduate of the École Polytechnique and Tax Inspector (May) joined Worms & Cie. Before taking over as Chief Executive, Barnaud was to spend some time in different parts of the company, including the Ateliers et Chantiers du Trait, and branches in the UK and Egypt.
Adoption by the Poincaré Government on an exceptional measure in the form of the Decree of 25 May 1927, making it necessary to obtain a licence to import coal, in other words, enforcing a quota system(2).
Confirmation of Robert Delteil in the position of Chief Executive of the Shipping Services Division. Opening of an agency in Swansea (July). Self-propelled tankers, the "Meuse" (7 July), "Moselle" and "Seine" (1 August) launched by the Le Trait yards for the Union Normande. Proposal to send coal from mines in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais regions of France by sea to ports on the Channel and Atlantic Coasts, the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Nord wishing to establish traffic between Boulogne and Atlantic ports in this way. Receipt of general sales conditions from the Klöckner Reederei & Kohlenhandel GmbH, with the company becoming Worms' agent for its supplies of German coal (September). 20,000 tonnes sent per year to the branch in Alexandria, which was responsible for taking delivery, discharging consignments from the vessels and transhipping them on to wagons.
Purchase of the vessel "Hillglade", rebaptised the "Normanville". Participation in the establishment of the Canadian company, the French and Foreign Investing Corporation (Quebec), a holding company controlled by Lazard and responsible for managing a portfolio of shares in French or foreign industries.
Petroleum charter voted making the industry a State monopoly: distribution and refinery activities conceded to industry majors for three and ten years respectively
(Act of 30 March)
Appointment of Jacques Barnaud to the post of Chief Executive of Worms et Cie (May). Launch by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the petrol tanker "Orkanger" for Westfal-Larsen & Co. A/S - Norway (20 May). At the time, this 8,029 gross tonne vessel was the largest ever to have been built by the shipyard, of which Henri Nitot was made a Director. Examination of proposals to set up a banking division, the extent of the company's financial flows begging the question of the benefits for the shipping, fuel and shipbuilding departments of being able to offer banking services to their customers (payment facilities for their shipments, credit lines, discounts, advances against freight, extended payments, etc.). In addition, "Worms & Cie could take a stake in a number of major businesses or intervene in share or bond issues on behalf of the gas and electricity or municipal loan companies and, in so doing, obtain exclusive rights over the provision of coal and transport services. This could open up a fairly extensive business sector in Poland, where the company has long had branches and is therefore familiar with practices and customers and would be able to cater to the country's needs." (31 May). To sound the ground, Hypolite Worms and Jacques Barnaud consulted Frédéric Bloch-Lainé and André Meyer of Lazard Brothers, and asked André Homberg and Léon Leblanc of the Société Générale to provide them with someone to manage the said banking division.
Stabilisation of the French franc by Poincaré (25 June)
Ferdinand Vial, a former inspector and Société Générale branch manager, entered the company (4 July) to become Head of the Banking Services Division, which was allotted an initial 10 million francs in start-up capital.
Launch of Banking Services Division (July)
Closure of the Prague branch: negotiations with the Danzas company over the takeover of Worms activities in Czechoslovakia.
Loucheur Act passed in France (13 July): financial intervention on the part of the State to enable private individuals to borrow money at reduced rates, thus making it easier for people to become homeowners. Loans granted to the shipping sector by the Crédit Foncier (Act of 1 August)
Discontinuation by the company of its property promotion activities at Le Trait following the measures introduced by the public authorities to loan money to potential homeowners. Offer of services by the Société Charbonnière Belgo-Westphalienne for the supply of coal to steamships in Antwerp and in Ghent (August). Non-exclusive licence for France, the colonies and protectorates, taken out jointly by ACSM and the Ateliers et Chantiers de Bretagne for the installation of Bauer-Wach steam turbines (October). Competition from BVN/Saga over the sale of coal to Morocco and Tunisia, where they had a virtual monopoly, Worms hoping that Schiaffino would fulfil its promises as regards organising services to these two countries (November-December). Agreement over the creation of a joint service between Bremen/Hamburg and French ports with the Norddeutscher Lloyd that had just launched regular services on the line between Hamburg and Bremen operated by the Roland Linie (November-January 1929). Nomination of Pierre Abbat to the position of Deputy Manager of the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime. Launch of the oil tanker "Megara" built for the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company Ltd. Agreement with the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique over traffic to Danzig and Gdynia. Delivery of a mixture of British and German coal to the Office des Secteurs Électriques. First imports of Polish coal: 40,000 tonnes sold over the year for purely domestic uses.
Market survey conducted in Poland by the Coal Division: possibility of forming a cartel among the company's main rivals in a bid to "monopolise coal imports" from Upper Silesia, these being products whose quality could rival British coal if released on the import and export markets, especially at a time when British collieries were struggling as a result of price dumping practices. Possibility for Worms & Cie of "supplying some services (shipbuilding) to the Polish Government", which was proposing to pay for part of the deal in coal because of cash flow problems. Information sought as regards the main coal producers, such as Bergenske, whose support was considered "invaluable" given its turnover. Reference to G. Le Roy Ladurie, Manager of the Franco-Polish Bank in Katowice... Organisation of Polish ore shipments from Danzig where the Coal Division had set up a company called Akotra. Guy Erwyn Marin joined the Banking Division (January). Contribution to the new capital injected into the Établissements Marret, Bonnin, Lebel & Guieu (gold smelters and customers of the Shipping Division for the carriage of gold and silver), who asked Worms & Cie to take over the running of the banking syndicate set up to handle the new share issue mainly intended to fund the development of the branch specialising in transactions with diamond merchants. G. Erwyn Marin represented Worms & Cie on the Board. Proposals to relaunch a shipping line round the Baltic following a resurgence of activities in the Port of Leningrad (termination of the contract with "Sovtorgflot"). Efforts to obtain the business of the Société Africaine d'Importation de Charbon et de Briquettes du Nord - Pas de Calais - Safic (February). Participation in the foundation of the Compagnie Charbonnière Klöckner in Paris, a subsidiary of the German company of the same name, set up to handle fuel imports and sales in France and abroad, Klöckner's Port Said branch having been Worms' receiving agent since 1927 (March). Launch by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the "Basque", the first of a series of torpedo boats built for the French Navy (25 May). Speech delivered by H. Worms on the occasion of a "study trip by the commission set up by the Association of Major French Ports", on the need for State support to ensure the survival of shipbuilding in France. Franco-Dutch Finance and Trade Company set up in Rotterdam for banking purposes and to take part in industrial and commercial transactions (June). Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie joined the Banking Division as its authorised representative (July). Joint participation with the Lazard Brothers Group and the Société Générale in the establishment of the Union Immobilière pour la France et l'Étranger - Unife, specialising in property transactions. Launch at the Le Trait shipyards of the "Mérignac", a Worms steamer specially designed to serve the smaller ports in Brittany (October).
"Black Thursday" (24 October): collapse of the New York Stock Exchange sparking an unprecedented worldwide economic crisis
Creation of the Coal Directorate under Louis Vignet (November). Shares in Worms & Cie capital transferred to Jacques Barnaud, who thus became a managing partner alongside Hypolite Worms and Michel Goudchaux (December). First outline of a rescue plan for the Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire de Navigation à Vapeur (company operating lines with Spain, Portugal and Algeria, the Indian Ocean and Madagascar, the Pacific and the West Coast of South America): meeting between one of its managers, Henri Cangardel, and the Head of Worms & Cie in the hope of raising capital to enable the CHP, hovering on the fringe of bankruptcy (4.5 million deficit in 1929), to cancel out the debts corresponding to its order for two cargo vessels from the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime ("Ville-de-Tamatave" and "Ville-de-Majunga", the hulls of which had been laid in May). Withdrawal from the Société Française d'Entreprises de Dragages et de Travaux Publics. British coal still accounted for 85% of the Coal Division's sales.
Contribution to the increase in the capital of the Société Méditerranéenne de Combustibles, d'Affrètement et de Transit managed by Schiaffino & Cie. Seat acquired on the Board of the Compagnie Charbonnière Dunkerquoise, the latter taking charge of bunkering operations for Worms steamers in Dunkirk (January). Speech delivered by Hypolite Worms on the launch by ACSM of the "Charles-Schiaffino", "the first vessel built in France for an Algerian shipping company, the Société Algérienne de Navigation pour l'Afrique du Nord, Charles Schiaffino & Cie" (March). At Government request, Worms & Cie agreed to enforce the rescue plan for the Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire, threatened with collapse by a massive slump in sales, Hypolite Worms successful mobilising a group of investors to set up a water utility company that would hire the ships, facilities and marketing structures of CHP for a 15-year period and bear the name of Société d'Exploitation de la Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire de Navigation à Vapeur and be chaired by the head of Worms & Cie with the Shipping Division taking charge of the technical management of the fleet and different offices (April-June). A new vessel, the "Pomerol", joined the fleet one month after the sale of the steamer of the same name (June), and its sister ship the "Médoc" was placed in service (May), mainly on the route between Le Havre and Scandinavia. Participation in the injection of new capital into the Société Française de Recherches au Venezuela, a company first established in 1929 with strong links in national (Pechelbronn) and international circles, in particular Petrofina, Worms & Cie also obtaining a seat on its Board of Directors. Involvement with the same group in the creation the Société Franco-Persane de Recherches, a company specialising in oil prospection in Iran (June). Major stake acquired in the Société Lyonnaise des Eaux et de l'Éclairage (second half of the year). Delivery by the David & William Henderson & Co. Ltd (Glasgow) shipyards of the steamships "Château-Larose" and "Château-Pavie" (August and September). Stake acquired in the capital of Omnium Colonial at the time of financial restructuring of this company with interests, in particular, in Madagascar, one of the strongholds of the Havraise Péninsulaire. Foundation with the Crédit Foncier d'Algérie et de Tunisie and the Schneider Group of the Compagnie Financière Maritime. Reorganisation of Marret, Bonnin, Lebel & Guieu whose banking sector specialising in dealings with diamond merchants was reeling under the effects of a crash: moratorium granted by the banks and restructuring of company business and capital (October). Participation in the creation in Amsterdam of the Compagnie Centrale des Prêts Fonciers (end of year). In the course of the year, Worms & Cie acquired a stake in the capital of the Milan-based fuel merchant company, the Sociéta Importazione Combustibili. It also contributed to the advances granted to Félix Potin and the capital injection in the Union Immobilière pour la France et l'Étranger - Unife. Worms was responsible for importing 15% of all Polish coal brought into France.
Creation by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of a new department for the construction of fuel tanks and exploitation of a patent for the so-called Wiggins floating tank roofs. Exclusive licence acquired from Krafft & Weichardt in Bremen for the manufacture of Hein-system aircraft landing rafts enabling several such rafts to be supplied to the Naval Ministry (February). Launch of the cargo vessels "Ville-de-Tamatave" and "Ville-de-Majunga" for the Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire de Navigation (22 January and 19 July) and the submarines "Antiope" and "Amazone" for the French Navy (18 August and 28 December). Guy Erwyn Marin sent to Marret, Bonnin, Lebel & Guieu to provide it with assistance in riding out the crisis in the diamond industry and on the stock market (February). Participation in the international loan launched by the Compagnie Centrale de Prêts Fonciers. Contribution to the capital injection in the Portefeuille Industriel, a holding company in charge of managing the assets of the Petsche family, a big electricity magnate (April). Transfer to Worms & Cie by the Consortium de Paris of a banking business located at 47, boulevard Haussmann (July).
Import duties on goods entering France increased: according to the Decree of 10 July 1931 coal imports were to be subject to prior authorisation and their total volume not allowed to exceed 25 million tonnes per year, this new quota system being mainly designed to protect French collieries that had been suffering from the unbridled dumping operations of foreign producers since 1929
4 of the 7 steamers operating on lines in the Baltic taken out of service as a consequence of the quotas enforced on the region's timber and the refusal to allow Worms & Cie to load Polish coal outside the quotas in its capacity as coal importer.
The United Kingdom abandoned the gold standard, the pound losing a third of its value (September)
Decision by the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique no longer to call at Bordeaux with its New York and South Pacific lines, the Shipping Divisions that were the agents for this company in the different ports thus losing part of their freight and transhipment traffic in the port. The Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire de Navigation à Vapeur placed in voluntary liquidation (October). Competition from the firm Mory, in particular, in Le Havre and Dunkirk (November). Proposal for an agreement with the Compagnie Nantaise de Navigation à Vapeur (continuation of the 1923 agreement): handling operations in Dunkirk and Boulogne for this company. Coal Division obtained a stake in the capital of the Société d'Approvisionnement pour le Chauffage Central, in Paris. Sale over the year of 1,200,000 tonnes of coal throughout France. First coal imported into France from Tonkin, this coal being of similar quality to the renowned Welsh anthracite. Takeover from the Homberg Group of the Société Française d'Entreprises de Dragages et de Travaux Publics – SFEDTP, a company bedevilled by the backlash of a financial crash (December). This operation, conducted in association with Lazard Brothers, was one of several in the course of the year: participation in the development in France of the Dutch company, the Compagnie Générale de Prêts Fonciers, with the agreement of the Kreuger Group. Control of the property company in the boulevard Haussmann (Paris) taken over from the Bauer-Marchal & Cie Group.
Worms & Cie acquired a stake in the capital of the Société Maritime de Charbonnages in Le Havre, a company specialising in the fuel merchant business. Société Française de Recherches au Venezuela taken over by the Caracas-based Société Pétrolière Française. The Banking Division contributed to the capital injection in the company Air-Orient, with Jacques Barnaud taking a seat on its Board of Directors and thereby gaining entry to the Portefeuille Industriel (January).
United Kingdom raised its customs barriers (February)
Société Française des Sablières (founded in 1920 to exploit sand deposits in Gennevilliers) refloated. Cut-throat competition in Morocco over industrial (Société Marocaine des Charbons, Mory et Safip) and domestic coal. Drop in the sales of bunker coal because of the crisis and competition from Gibraltar and Oran. Launch of the submarine "Oréade" built for the French Navy (23 May). Proposal from the Ministry of Merchant Shipping regarding the creation of a line between Marseilles and Riga via Bordeaux and Le Havre, not followed up by Worms & Cie for want of available consignments. Death of Virginie Marie Adèle Houcke, widow of Lucien Worms (June), her partnership rights being split between her son, Hypolite Worms, and her two daughters. Construction of oil tanks by ACSM, a business developed to offset the crisis facing the shipyards (July). Raymond Meynial, a young inspector from the Société Générale, joined the Banking Division (October) to replace Guy Erwyn Marin, appointed Chief Executive of Marret, Bonnin, Lebel & Guieu. Signature of an agreement between this latter company (with debts in excess of equity) and its bankers according to which it would have 5 years to meet all its obligations. Sale to scrap of the "Suzanne-and-Marie" (October) and "Haut-Brion" (November). Contribution to the injection of new capital into Air-Union (November). Voluntary liquidation of Omnium Colonial. Drop in shipping traffic with tonnage half that of 1929. As a backlash of quota policy, tonnages were to go on falling on into 1939.
Shipping companies hit since 1931 by a huge crisis caused by overcapacity, higher charges, customs protectionism, competition from foreign vessels, exchange rates, etc. and leading to a drop in freight consignments, ships laid up, their crews and dockers laid off, shipyard closures and companies slipping inexorably into the red. Demands for State intervention proliferated
Adolph Hitler elected Chancellor of Germany (30 January), dissolution of the Reichstag (1 February)
subsequently devastated by fire (28-29 February), declaration of the 3rd Reich (15 March)
Agreement reached in Bremen with Argo Reederei over setting up a pool for phosphate shipments to French ports (January). Worms & Cie became an investor in the Compagnie Charbonnière Dunkerquoise, a company specialising in the sale of bunker coal. Intervention in the Estrellas Mining and Finance Corporation, a Canadian company founded in 1927 to prospect and work mining deposits, sell all types of ores and metals, and with interests in other mining and agricultural activities, railway and electricity companies, etc. Representative in France for the Hongay mines (Charbonnages du Tonkin), Worms & Cie obtaining the exclusive rights to the sale of this coal. Launch at the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the submarine "La-Sybille" built for the French Navy (28 January). Société Centrale pour l'Exploitation des Lignes Aériennes founded (May) in application of the policy of concentrating airline companies (Act of 11 December 1932) culminating in the establishment of one single company, baptised "Air France" (August) with State involvement in management and control. The new company was an amalgam of various companies, such as Air-Union and Air-Orient, of which Worms & Cie was a shareholder. As one of the founder shareholders of Air France, the company was entitled to a seat on its Board of Directors, this seat being held by Jacques Barnaud.
Proposed Tasso Bill (3 July) awarding merchant ships flying the French flag grants calculated on the basis of the gross tonnage of the fleets subsidised, the money being paid by the central clearing house from funds taken from customs surcharges. A number of problems were haunting the industry and the media, for example the need to have officers and crew that were exclusively French to be entitled to grants and, more particularly, the exclusion of "reserved" sectors such as coastal shipping from the advantages offered by the new bill
Speech delivered by Hypolite Worms at the Le Trait shipyards on the occasion of the launch of the "Président-Théodore-Tissier", a vessel built for the Naval Academy for purposes of oceanographic research and the only one of its type built before the War: "I cannot conceal from you my profound concern at the state of French shipbuilding today" (July). Worms & Cie Hamburg appointed to represent the Messageries Maritimes (August), the company also acting as agent for this shipping line in Bordeaux, as well as Delmas in La Rochelle-La Pallice.
Modifications to the Tasso Bill to allow for the changes requested by the Central Committee of French Shipowners (CCAF) (20 October)
Sale of the "Château-Lafite" to the French Navy (November 1933). Accounting and administrative reorganisation of the coal subsidiaries, with the business being split into four branches: coal sales, manufacture and sale of aggregates, consignment sales, handling operations on behalf of third parties. Assets of the former Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire de Navigation à Vapeur undergoing liquidation transferred to the CHP Operating company, the latter being responsible for settling outstanding liabilities. Following this operation, in January 1934, the now-independent company changed its company purpose to enable it to operate directly, taking the name of Nouvelle Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire – NCHP. This restructuring process was conducted under the auspices of Worms & Cie, the main driving force behind the move (December).
Coal Division in Rouen made into a separate subsidiary in the light of its growing importance. Worms & Cie appointed to the Board of the Comptoir Européen de Crédit, a company founded by a syndicate of French companies headed by Petrofina for purposes of obtaining settlement for business with the Soviet Government: sale of Russian petroleum as a guarantee for orders placed with French industry (February).
Tasso bill voted (30 March-12 July): aids for the refitting of the coastal, ocean-going and deep-sea shipping fleets in the form of operating bonuses, higher tonnage vessels receiving proportionately lower grants
The bill sparked violent criticism in that, among other things, it placed ships of over 500 tonnes at a disadvantage, these being the ones in most common use for domestic and international coastal shipping, and including Worms vessels on the Bordeaux-Le Havre-Hamburg line that had been operating at a loss for a number of years. In addition, traffic between Algeria and France was classed as domestic shipping and therefore entitled to little or no aid. Extraordinary General Meeting of the shareholders of the Operating Company of the Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire approved the decision to transform it (with effect from 2 January 1934) into the Nouvelle Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire – NCHP and appoint Hypolite Worms to be its Chairman (a role he was to play until his death in 1962). The Company thus underpinned its coastal shipping business by adding the operation of ocean-going vessels serving the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and Madagascar (March). Pool agreement negotiated between NCHP and the Société des Services Contractuels des Messageries Maritimes, and with the Scandinavian East Africa Line. Sale of the "Yainville" (April). Launch by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the cargo vessel "Le-Trait" (July), sister ship to the "Médoc" and "Pomerol", and nicknamed the "unemployment boat", since it had been put on the stocks to provide work for employees threatened with dismissal by the crisis affecting the sector since 1930 forcing shipyards to reduce their workforce and curtail their outside purchases in the face of empty order books. The situation was so bad that some workers had been transferred to jobs in the town. Lucien Guérin, an expert in dealings with Nordic and Scandinavian countries, joined the Banking Division (July).
Death of Hindenburg, followed by Hitler's proclamation as President (3 August)
Involvement in setting up the Compagnie Minière Coloniale, a subsidiary of the Indochina Bank, operating in the colonies, protectorates and territories under French control in Asia, Africa and Oceania (August). Shares acquired in the Société Indochinoise d'Exploitations Minières et Agricoles, founded in Hanoi, and in the Entreprises Albert Cochery, when the equity of this company manufacturing and selling tar and tar macadam was increased (October). Establishment in Marseilles of the Compagnie de Courtage d'Assurances et de Gestion to handle insurance and risk management for Worms & Cie (November). Involvement in the financial restructuring of the Société d'Entreprises de Grands Travaux Hydrauliques - EGTH, a company working in the major hydraulic projects sector in France, the colonies and protectorates. Slump in activity at the Rotterdam branch following a decline in coal imports from the Ruhr, a problem exacerbated by the fact that Rotterdam had lost its leading role to Antwerp in the wake of agreements reached between the German and Belgian Governments.
Saarland becomes part of Germany (January)
The management of the Coal Division opted to move into liquid fuel sales. Partial control taken of the Portefeuille Industriel (January). Launch at the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the submarine "Vénus" built for the French Navy (April). Marriage of Hypolite Worms' only daughter, Marguerite Viviane Worms to Robert Wilfred Kenneth Clive, son of the British Ambassador to Japan (20 April).
Franco-Soviet Mutual Assistance Treaty (2 May)
Account opened at Worms & Cie by the Société Tunisienne de l'Hyperphosphate Réno (June).
Anglo-German Agreement authorising Germany to acquire its own naval fleet (18 June)
Banking Division acquired all the new shares in the Société Française de Métrographie (August). Launch by ACSM of the tanker "Shéhérazade" for the Compagnie Auxiliaire de Navigation, at 18,500 tonnes, the ship's deadweight being a world record (October). Closure of the France-Spain line via Bordeaux and Bayonne, this secondary service that had always operated at a loss having been delivered the coup de grace by the restrictions imposed on importers by the United Kingdom. Competition from the railways with shipping services in Bordeaux, a branch weakened by the decision of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique to stop traffic on the Bordeaux-Casablanca line. The same situation encountered in Rouen, where Worms & Cie was in charge of handling operations for the CGT, which operated a line from there to Morocco and was considering the possibility of no longer calling in Portugal. By contrast, a pool agreement was reached on the Le Havre-Nantes-Portugal route with the Compagnie Nantaise de Navigation à Vapeur, represented by Worms in Le Havre.
Race laws decreed in the German Empire (1 September-November)
Take over with the Société Générale of Lazard Brothers' stake in the Union Immobilière pour la France et l'Étranger - Unife. Group of industrialists, including Worms, obtained payment guarantees from the Ministry of Trade for an order from the Turkish Government for the manufacture of submarines, tractors, canons and machine guns. At the same time, Worms became the distributor in France for Turkish State coal for and through the Société Commerciale Franco-Turque. Foundation of the Société de Courtage et d'Affrètement Pétroliers - Socap, with the assistance of John I. Jacobs & Co. Ltd., in a bid to step up petroleum product deliveries to France (January). Participation in the foundation of the Société des Transports Maritimes Pétroliers - STMP, its Chairman, Pierre Poulain, being granted a loan to purchase the tanker "Brumaire" (February). The rates raised by coastal shipping companies frozen while the "Air-Rail-Sea" Committee set up by the Act of 30 October 1935 was completing its investigations (February). Not only was coastal shipping now under heavy pressure from competition from the railways but it was also penalised by the grants given to international shipping lines, freight shipped from La Pallice to Havre costing more than that loaded in Bordeaux and transhipped in Le Havre to the New York-bound vessels of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (February).
Occupation of the Rhineland by the Wehrmacht (7 March)
Acquisition of the control of the Société Française des Huiles Combustibles, Huilcombus, promptly reorganised by the Coal Division (April).
Victory of the Front Populaire in the legislative elections in France (26 April-3 May)
Participation in the creation of the Société Financière pour le Commerce avec l'Etranger, a company set up to foster and finance commercial transactions between France and other countries (May). Moves to place the Société Tunisienne de l'Hyperphosphate Réno on a sounder footing: capital reduction followed by influx of new capital (May). Proposal to group together the activities of the Nantes branch with those of the Messageries Maritimes (May).
Massive protests over wages and working conditions: general strike paralysing the ports and factories occupied, etc. Election of Léon Blum as President of the Council (4 June 1936-21 June 1937). Legislation on paid holidays and collective bargaining agreements (11-20 June), introduction of the 40-hour working week (12 June), principle of worker delegates in industrial or commercial firms (24 June)
These events and the new measures prompted abundant exchanges of correspondence between Paris, the branches in Le Havre, Bordeaux and Marseilles, the subsidiaries (Huilcombus, Compagnie Charbonnière du Midi, NCHP, etc.), within the profession and with the trade unions in the sectors concerned. Ferdinand Vial replaced by Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie at the head of the Banking Division (June). Financial support for the Groupe Hubert, a group specialising in electro-mechanical transmissions (July).
Spanish Civil War (17 July 1936-1 April 1939)
Second Tasso Act passed (26 August): compensation for the extra costs of coastal shipping by virtue of collective contracts and increase in the grants instigated by the first bill
Establishment of the Nouveaux Cahiers, a magazine and discussion club comprising Boris Souvarine, Raoul Dautry, Jacques Barnaud, Jean Jardin and others. Branch opened in Lorient, while those in Lyon, Strasbourg and Prague were removed from the trade register (October). Acquisition of a one-quarter stake in the Entreprises de Grands Travaux Hydrauliques, a public works company: dams, port installations, etc. (November).
General strike of dockers and coal miners in Bordeaux (November)
Worms & Cie among the firms involved in discussions over the measures to be taken in terms of petroleum and coal traffic policy in the event of war: "The problem concerns finding and securing the foreign tonnages necessary without delay in order to keep the country supplied with liquid fuels of all kinds right from the start in the event of mobilisation" (December). Start of a shipping line between Marseilles and ports in the North to offset the slump in trade exchanges with Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries (quotas imposed on timber imports from Poland and the Baltic). Sale by the company in France of nearly 1,200,000 tonnes of coal over the year out of total imports of 22,200,000 tonnes, the coal coming for the most part from British collieries and, to a lesser extent, from collieries in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and Indochina.
Recovery plan enforced at the Compagnie Sétoise de Produits Chimiques (manufacturer of copper sulphate): settlement of liabilities and re-establishment of business. Acquisition of a stake in the Compagnie Minière et Électrique des Landes (early part of the year). Participation in two capital injection operations (early in the year and in September), namely those of the insurance company La Réunion Française and the Compagnie d'Assurances Universelles Réunies, of which Hypolite Worms was a Board member (April). Guy Brocard, former inspector at the Crédit Foncier d'Algérie et de Tunisie and the Société Générale Alsacienne de Banque joined the company. Worms & Cie involved in the creation of the Comptoir Financier des Matières Premières (January).
Further social unrest with strikes in Bordeaux in February, Dieppe in April, Nantes
in September and October, etc.
Studies, reports and correspondence exchanged by the trade unions (crews, dockers, coal merchant-importers, miners, etc.) the CCAF and Worms Le Havre and Paris with regard to collective bargaining agreements (employment and recruitment conditions, compensatory rest times, wages, etc.). These issues were under discussion throughout the year. In addition talks started on grants requested from the State to assist domestic coastal shipping, jeopardised by lack of financial support (Tasso Acts) and competition from the railway. Launch by the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime of the torpedo boats "Incomprise" (April) and "Bouclier" (May) built for the French Navy. Sale to France-Navigation (May) of the "Ville-de-Mostaganem" and "Ville-de-Sète" bought from the Société Nouvelle de Cabotage in February. Stake taken in the Société Française des Distilleries de l'Indochine (production and sale of rice wine). Participation in the capital injection into the Société Tunisienne de l'Hyperphosphate Réno (May) and the Société Française de Métrographie (June). Agent for the Messageries Maritimes in Nantes (June). Appointment of Jacques Barnaud to the first Board of Directors of the Compagnie Air France Transatlantique, set up by Air France and the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (June). Shipping Division losses reached 11,000,000 F as against 1,000,000 F in 1935) as a result of the upsurge in the cost of operating shipping lines in France (slump in tonnages carried, increase in port handling charges, etc.). Worms & Cie decided to cut the number of ships used in domestic coastal shipping to 6 (July) and announced plans to lay up the "Pontet-Canet" and "Cantenac" (August).
Foundation of the SNCF by the French Government and railway companies
(31 August 1937-1 January 1938)
1,630,000 tonnes of coal imported into France in the course of the year (i.e. 5.46% of total tonnage), British coal representing 60% of these volumes (as against 80% in 1929), the rest coming mainly from Germany (volumes having doubled since 1929), Poland, Tonkin and the Compagnie Franco-Turque. The Coal Division held stakes in Huilcombus, the Consortium Maritime Tunisien, the Société d'Approvisionnement pour le Chauffage Central, the Charbonnages de Provence and the Compagnie Charbonnière du Midi.
Stake acquired in the Société Maritime de Charbonnages - SMC. Deal with the Société Générale des Affaires Immobilières of the former company Bauer, Marchal & Cie: control taken of the Union Immobilière pour la France et l'Étranger – Unife, giving, by extension, indirect interests in the Société Immobilière du Boulevard Haussmann et Saint-Lunaire. Further discussions and negotiations with the trade union representatives of company employees regarding the collective bargaining agreements (January-December). Plans to wind up the Compagnie Nantaise and for Worms & Cie to obtain a seat on the Board of Directors of the Compagnie des Chargeurs de l'Ouest. Equity reduction and then increase at the Établissements Marret, Bonnin, Lebel & Guieu, the Banking Division intervening to place part of the new shares. Reorganisation of the Le Havre branch (February). Rescue of La Préservatrice to save it from bankruptcy and prevent the Chamber of Deputies voting to nationalise the sector as it had done with the railways, thus creating the SNCF, with the Banking Division, backed by the Corporation des Assurances, granting the company the cash reserves necessary to refloat it, increase its equity (subsequently again reduced) and issue a debenture loan (February-November).
Coup d’État organised by Nazi German (11 March) annexing Austria and making it part
of the German Reich (Anschluss)
Worried by international tension and large-scale German rearmament, the French Government contacted Worms & Cie over ways of building up French oil reserves in preparation for the eventuality of war, in order not to attract attention abroad (February). Study conducted by the Banking Division together with Jean Nelson-Pautier, Managing Director of the Société de Courtage et d'Affrètement Pétroliers (March-April).
Election of Édouard Daladier as President of the Council (12 April 1938-20 March 1940). Arthur Neville Chamberlain appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (28 May 1938-10 May 1940)
Robert Labbé, grandson of Henri Gouchaux, joined the company as sole and authorised signatory. Sale of the "Cantenac" (May). Examination of plans to reorganise the administrative and financial structures of the Manufacture Centrale de Machines Agricoles Puzenat whose debt had been growing since 1924, to the extent that it was forced to go into liquidation (April-June). Decree dated 17 June giving permission for the Office National des Combustibles Liquides to provide financial support for a petroleum transport company by acquiring a stake in its capital and offering loan guarantees. Submission to the government of plans for setting up a semi-public company to supply France with petroleum. In response Édouard Daladier issued instructions to Worms & Cie to go ahead with the purchase abroad of a fleet of tankers with deadweights of from 70,000 to 100,000 tonnes, to make preparations for setting up a company in which the State would have a 30% stake, the remaining shares being held by a private group to be established, on the understanding that Worms "would have sole responsibility for ensuring the technical and commercial management of the fleet"… (July). A 200 million debenture loan set up for issue in January 1939 and the first five oil tankers purchased (August-September). Finally, the Société Française de Transports Pétroliers was set up by the State, Worms & Cie, Desmarais Frères, the Compagnie Auxiliaire de Navigation, the Compagnie Navale des Pétroles, Louis-Dreyfus & Cie, the Manufacture des Glaces and Produits Chimiques de Saint-Gobain, Chauny & Cirey, the Board of the company being chaired by Hypolite Worms (September).
Munich Agreements (29-30 September): the Sudetenland annexed by Germany
Contribution to the financial recovery of the Établissements Japy Frères (sale and manufacture of pumps, electrical motors, watch movements, typewriters, etc.) which, owing to a shortage of funds to break out of the vicious circle in which it had been caught up for a dozen or so years, was threatened with bankruptcy, Worms & Cie taking a stake in the company, with the agreement of the Banque de France. Establishment of the Société Privée d'Études et de Banque, which would handle some of the Banking Division's activities on the Stock Market. Participation in the foundation of the Société des Alliages, Métaux et Matières Premières (October). Speech delivered in Le Havre by Hypolite Worms as Chairman of the Société Française de Transports Pétroliers (November). Travel agency licence obtained (December). Purchase by SFTP of a sixth oil tanker. At 31,865 gross tonnes, the Worms fleet thus accounted for 1% of the French merchant naval shipping fleet with the percentage represented by the Nouvelle Compagnie Havraise standing at 1.6% (48,298 gross tonnes) and that of the Société Française des Transports Pétroliers at 2.97% (48,290 gross tonnes). Coal imports from the United Kingdom, the Ruhr, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and Indochina totalled 1,793,665 tonnes, in other words 8.1% of all French imports in the sector. And according to the mean annual value for clearance transactions, Worms & Cie ranked 11th among the 33 French banks operating in the field.
1939 (up to the declaration of the Second World War)
Bank account opened in the name of Établissements Japy Frères: overdraft guaranteed by contracts signed with the public authorities. Recovery plan agreed with the Banque de France and public authorities. Worms port activities in Nantes (consignment sales, handing, transit) combined with those of the Compagnie Nantaise des Chargeurs de l'Ouest (of which H. Worms was a Board member) to form a common subsidiary, the Société Nantaise de Consignation et de Gérance. Exclusive licence in France for the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime for the exploitation of a device patented with the description "liquid and gas-tight electrical cable input" (February).
Czechoslovakia annexed by Germany (March), followed by Bohemia, Memel (Klaipeda) and Danzig
Klöckner collieries transformed into the Compagnie Française Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz, Worms no longer having a seat on the Board. Worms party to a capital injection in La Préservatrice (March) where a new management team was established (April), the company being represented on the Board of this insurance group and in its subsidiaries Lloyd de France-Vie, Saint-Didier Automobiles, Saint-Didier-Tourisme and Saint-Didier-Accessoires. Purchase by the SFTP of the "Saintonge", sister ship to the "Bourgogne". Appointment of Hypolite Worms to the Board of the Société Française des Distilleries de l'Indochine (April). Creation of two companies specialising in trade exchanges between France and the Scandinavian countries: the Union d'Exportateurs Français pour l'Europe du Nord - UEFEN, and the Société Centrale d'Achats pour l'Europe du Nord - Scane (April-June). Liquidation of the Compagnie Financière Maritime. Involvement in the establishment of the Consortium National de Constructions Navales, contribution to the capital injection in the Société Tunisienne de l'Hyperphosphate Réno (April). Purchase of the "Touraine" (ex-"Senator") by the SFTP which, in the space of just eight months, had built up a fleet of eight ships for a total deadweight of 115,000 tonnes (May).
Steel Pact between Germany and Italy (May)
Guarantee provided for a deal between the Société des Machines Agricoles Puzenat and its creditors under which Puzenat would repay all its debts (June). Adoption of an amendment proposed to the collective bargaining agreement of 24 July 1936. Contribution to the injection of capital into the Établissements Japy Frères, granted extended repayment times under new management and with revamped technical and commercial structures (July-August). Speech delivered at Le Trait by Hypolite Worms regarding relations between the State and the Merchant Navy on the occasion of the launch of the "Malgache" at the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime, a ship built for the Nouvelle Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire de Navigation. Recovery plan for the Société des Machines Agricoles Puzenat (July).
Non-aggression Treaty between Germany and the USSR (23 August)
Plans to have the Consortium Maritime Tunisien provide handling services for France Navigation (August).
Deterioration of diplomatic relations in Northern Europe: Poland decides to call up its troops in the face on imminent conflict with Germany (30 August)
Hasty return to France of staff at the Warsaw branch. Decision by the French Government to increase the national tanker fleet (end August): SFTP instructed to purchase 4 new oil tankers for its own account. Cash facilities granted to the Compagnie Sétoise de Produits Chimiques. Start of financial reorganisation of the Établissements Fournier-Ferrier in Marseilles (ex-Stéarinerie Fournier, oils and fatty substances, etc.) in association with Pitavino.
(1) Ship loading and unloading.
(2) In response to the very sharp increase in imports into France (1.3 million tonnes in just a few months), this decree was to be of short duration. In particular because industrial demand for foreign fuels (better quality at lower prices) remained high and because cuts in imports through the ports threatened port economics and, in general, because from 1928, it became possible to tweak the relationship between production and imports through a better balance of supply and demand