Banking on the rock - The story so far
By Ray Langham, Secretary of the Gibraltar Bankers' Association
The banking industry in Gibraltar like the finance centre itself is a relatively young one. The Annual Report of 1961 showed just three banks, Barclays DCO, Credit Foncier D’Algerie et de Tunisie and Galliano’s Bank. This was, of course, before the period when the border with Spain was closed.
Two of the three banks are still there but sporting different names:
A.L. Galliano Banker’s Limited is the oldest bank in Gibraltar in Private ownership having been incorporated in 1855. It became the first major Danish bank in Gibraltar in 1987 when it was acquired by Jyske Bank and changed its name to Jyske Bank (Gibraltar) Limited. In 1991, Jyske House, the bank’s new five storey office building was opened in Main Street. During the last few years, the bank’s business focus has changed so that it now concentrates mainly on the Private Banking sector.
Barclays now has two operations in Gibraltar, Barclays Bank PLC and Barclays Bank Offshore Financial Services (Gibraltar) Limited and has offices in Regal House and Main Street. Its origins in Gibraltar, however, go back to June 1888 when as the Anglo-Egyptian Bank Limited it opened offices in Irish Town as the first non Gibraltarian bank to open a branch in Gibraltar. In 1920 Barclays Bank Limited acquired a controlling interest in the Anglo-Egyptian Bank. Prior to this in 1917 Barclays Bank Limited had also acquired interest in another Bank, the Colonial Bank which had been incorporated in 1836. This Bank was re-incorporated and its name changed to Barclays Bank (Dominion Colonial and Overseas) in 1925. Subsequently in 1925, the Anglo-Egyptian Bank Limited together with the National Bank of South Africa amalgamated with Barclays Bank (Dominion Colonial and Overseas) and the branch in Gibraltar therefore adopted the new name. The name of the Bank was shortened to Barclays Bank DCO in 1954. In 1985 the Bank's operations overseas once more changed its name to the present style, Barclays Bank PLC. Barclays were one of the first banks to provide ATM machines initially on their premises and latterly off-site.
The fourth bank to establish in Gibraltar was ABN AMRO in 1964, at first under the name of Mediterranean Bank Limited in which it held forty percent of the equity. Over time the share of equity held by ABN AMRO was increased until in the early nineties ABN AMRO acquired full ownership of the shares. Over the years the name of the Gibraltar registered bank has changed, initially from Mediterranean Bank to Algemene Bank Nederland (Gibraltar) Limited and subsequently to ABN AMRO Bank (Gibraltar) Limited until finally in 1997 the local bank was converted to a full branch, when the style ABN AMRO Bank N.V., Gibraltar Branch was adopted. The Bank, which in 1997, was the first bank in Gibraltar to achieve the ISO 9000 quality certificate was subsequently sold to SG Hambros Bank (Gibraltar) in 2008.
The development of the Finance Centre really started to prosper, however, with the full opening of the border in 1985 and today there are 17 Authorised Banks operating in Gibraltar as opposed to four in 1980. The following gives a flavour of the other’s development.
Hambros Bank (Gibraltar) Limited established an office in 1981 primarily to provide banking services to expatriates in Iberia. This operation was complemented in 1985 with the opening of Hambros Bank Limited, Gibraltar Branch that enabled them to provide a full banking service for individuals and selective businesses in Gibraltar. Both operated from their current premises in Line Wall Road. In 1998 the French Société Générale group acquired Hambros and in 2001, the two operations were combined under the name of SG Hambros Bank & Trust (Gibraltar) Limited. Firsts for Hambros in Gibraltar were the introduction of interest bearing current accounts, cheques that could be cleared within the UK Clearing system and the euro gold debit card. Today the main focus of SG Hambros is Private Banking. In 2003 they acquired the client book of Credit Agricole Indosuez when they closed their operation in Gibraltar and as mentioned above, acquired ABN Amro, Gibraltar in 2008.
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