The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

VOC Bankrupt

The conquest of Bengal depleted the coffers of the VOC, as well as forced them to take out loans in order to finance their war against the British East India Company. Most of these loans were taken from the Bank of Amsterdam, a bank not only chartered by the Staaten-General, but with a majority of the shares owned by both Staaten-General and the Crown, as well as the Dutch government being the largest depositor. The fiscal situation for the VOC could not be offset by its virtual international trade monopoly to India, as well as its spice monopoly to the East Indies. Neither could keep up with rising debt. As a result, the VOC defaulted on its loans in 1798, and later that year declared bankruptcy.
Just how a corporation of such revenue could suddenly become bankrupt was not understood by the general public, or even VOC shareholders. Upon hearing this, those who could sell their shares did just that. Investors wished to liquidate their holdings in the company, while the company still existed. In early 1799, the Staaten-General refused to renew the VOC’s monopoly. The end of the almost two century old company looked at hand. In order to compensate for defaulted loans, the Bank of Amsterdam seized company property. The Staaten-General received its compensation for lost deposits in the Bank by seizing company lands in India, the Far East as well as the African Coast. The Company began to sell off assets to pay off its debt, and in effect, dissolved itself by 1800.
This was not the end of the VOC, but rather the beginning. The company was no longer a monopoly, nor in the trade of conquest. What remained by 1801, was a few diehard investors, captains and sailors, as well as twenty ships that these men purchased while the company was being liquidated. Despite the risk, they kept the name VOC, for the captains have served the company since they were cabin boys, decades before. Heydrick Doeff became the first chairmen of the new VOC. He would lead the company into fiercely competitive trading market, without the VOC’s previous power or privileges, but with the ghosts of all the enemies the previous company had made during its existence.

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