Banco Central Hispano

Banco Central Hispano
   BCH was created in 1991 through the merger of two of the old "big seven" banks, Banco Central (1919) and Banco Hispano Americano (1900). It had long been felt that the interests and capital structure of these two high street banks complemented one another well and that a merger was a natural option. Banco Central held extensive shareholdings in the energy and transport sectors (including several wholly-owned subsidiaries), whilst the Banco Hispano Americano had interests in insurance and property. Earlier attempts at merger in 1965 and 1972 failed, due in part to lukewarm government support, but increasing competitive pressures in the late 1980s following Spain's entry into the EC and the attempt by the Kuwait Investment Office as leader of a group of shareholders to exert influence on the Board of Directors of Banco Central persuaded the two institutions to succeed at the third attempt. Today BCH is considered to be the third largest of the private banks in Spain. It has some 4 million retail customers within Spain and just over 2,500 branches (down from 3,600 at the time of the merger). It has the strongest international profile of any Spanish bank with 78 branches abroad and 10 commercial banking subsidiaries in various parts of the world. Unusually for a Spanish bank, 25 percent of the group's assets are outside Spain, and its shares are quoted in stock exchanges throughout the world. BCH continues to have large shareholdings in Spanish industry, including the large oil company CEPSA, the biggest of Spain's construction companies, Dragados, and the property company Vallehermoso. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Hispamer Banco Financiero, is the largest Spanish financial services company, and La Estrella and Banco Vitalicio are among the larger insurance companies. BCH also has important share-holdings in telecommunications, including cable television.
   See also: banks; economy
   C. A. LONGHURST

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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