Caixa, La

Caixa, La
   La Caixa, or Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona, dates from 1844. In 1990 it merged with another Catalan savings bank, the Caja de Pensiones y de Ahorros de Cataluña y Baleares (1904). It is counted among the top five financial institutions in Spain and is the largest savings bank in Europe. It owns several other financial entities, among them the Asturian regional bank, Banco Herrero, and controls various others such as the Andalusian Banco Granada Jerez of which it owns 60 percent of the capital. It is active abroad through its subsidiaries Caixabank France and Caixabank Monaco, and has a minority shareholding in the Portuguese bank Banco Portugues de Investimento. As well as having a number of subsidiaries in insurance, property and investment services, it has a wide portfolio of shareholdings, including shares in electricity, gas and water companies, in the oil company Repsol and in Telefónica, being the biggest non-state shareholder in the latter.
   In 1995 client deposits at La Caixa (including banking subsidiaries but excluding all other sectors) amounted to 7.34m2 pesetas and net worth to 412,923m pesetas. Profits after tax were 62,454m pesetas. About half of La Caixa's lending is on a mortgage basis. Although the bulk of its 2,586 Spanish branches (2,920 including those of its subsidiaries) are still to be found in its home region of Catalonia, La Caixa has a presence throughout the national territory. This vast network facilitates the marketing of a range of products, including insurance, investment plans, leasing and factoring. As in the case of all Spanish Cajas de Ahorros, an important function of La Caixa lies in its contribution to welfare and community projects, which it carries out through its charitable foundation Fundación La Caixa. It has financed AIDS awareness and research, a wide range of scientific and artistic exhibitions, public libraries and educational projects, bursaries for study at home and abroad, and environmental improvement schemes.
   C. A. LONGHURST

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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