BESA

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Bourse vun Esch-sur-Alzette
Type Stock Exchange
Location Esch-sur-Alzette, Van Luxemburg
Founded 1615
Owner Vun Lëtzebuergesche Bourse
Currency Van Luxemburger florin
Indices ESAX
Website www.besa.vl

The Bourse vun Esch-sur-Alzette, often abbreviated as BESA, is the main stock exchange in the Grand Duchy of Van Luxemburg, and one of the most important and oldest stock exchanges in Maredoratica.

History

File:Boursetower.jpg
Bourse Tower, shown here shortly after completion in 1940

The stock exchange of Esch can trace its roots back to a trading market found by the quays of the port in the early 11th century, where fresh products such as fish, grain and dairy were traded, but also more exclusive products such as salt. Historic evidence points out that the market was a collection of stalls permanently settled in what was effectively regarded as the center of the city, with the market having a reputation that attracted both buyers and salesmen from hundreds of kilometers away. Staying there for several days at least, they would buy or sell the many products available, with fresh products coming in by ship or over land every day.

The Esch market had expanded at such a rate that, by the late 13th century, the massive square on which trading took place occupied a sizeable chunk of the city centre, and included many outbuildings housing various sales agencies and storage facilities. Goods came in from neighbouring countries and settlements by ship, allowing inhabitants of the city to purchase various rare goods.

From the 13th century onwards, various stalls appeared offering services such as loans and insurance, but also offering real estate both in Van Luxemburg and far beyond, in newly discovered parts of Maredoratica. In the early years of the 17th century, this was further augmented by stalls offering investment opportunities in vessels, foreign expeditions and stakes in companies creating these ventures.

In 1609, the city council of Esch had decided that the market was to be split up in many different market buildings to be built around the ‘Central Square’. One of them was designated for ‘Insurances, Banking, Real Estate and Stock Trade’, to be built as the centerpiece of the southern section of the square. The building was completed in 1615, which is generally accepted to be the founding date of the Bourse vun Esch-sur-Alzette (BESA). Merchants, aristocrats, stockbrokers and bankers often met in the building, selling various products such as company shares, securities, bonds and various kinds of stock.

In 1689, it was becoming apparent that the current building, whilst sizeable, was far too small for the growing demands of the stockbrokers. The nearby markets for salt and pepper were demolished in order to make room for an expansion of the stock exchange, which flourished amidst Van Luxemburger expeditions and colonial settlements. With the beginning of the 18th century, however, the stock trade in colonial joint stock companies crashed and with it, most of the stock trade, causing much unrest among the Van Luxemburger people. The stock crash is seen as being one of the reasons the One Hundred Years’ War began in 1754, after which the stock exchange remained open but traded relatively little.

File:Bourseinterior.jpg
The main trading floor at BESA

Following the end of the war in 1854, the original construction, dating back to 1609 was so dilapidated that construction of a new exchange was necessary. This new exchange was completed in 1860, and opened the following year, once again selling various stocks ranging from shares in colonial ventures to established Van Luxemburger firms (one such example being Müller Maschinenbau).

With the demolition of much of the historic city centre in 1937, the stock exchange was also demolished to make way for various skyscrapers, according to the wishes of Esch’s city council. Eventually, the stock exchange was allocated the Bourse Tower in the new city center, by the sea. With final delivery of the tower taking place in 1940, the 242-metre tall Bourse Tower accommodated not only the BESA and its offices, but also the chamber of commerce and the offices of Firema, until 1981. Nowadays, the space vacated by Firema is used as the offices for various trade and industry associations. For years, it was the highest building in Esch-sur-Alzette, until the construction of the International VLT House in 1978.