British International Banks in Asia, 1870–1914: An Introductory Essay<sup>1</sup>

Shizuya Nishimura

in The Origins of International Banking in Asia

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646326
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191745256 | DOI:
British International Banks in Asia, 1870–1914: An Introductory Essay1

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The first international banks to appear in Asia were British. On the one hand were banks established in London, or who moved their head office to London. On the other hand were those who were formed in Asia by the European, mainly British, expatriate community and then retained their head office there. In the past these two groups have been treated as identical. However, what this chapter reveals very clearly is that this is not the case, as the comparison between the Chartered Bank and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank shows. In an age of imperialism before 1914 it might have been expected that the bank with the London head office would possess all the advantages. That was not the case because a local head office made the process of decision making faster and also removed the problem of having assets and liabilities in different currencies. It was thus HSBC that became the major force in Asia rather than the Chartered Bank. Despite the problems that it experienced in Asia between 1914 and 1945 it was also HSBC that was best placed to benefit from the renewed economic growth in Asia rather than the Chartered bank, which had to re-invent itself after the Second World War.

Keywords: international banking; Chartered Bank; HSBC; London; Second World War

Chapter.  15165 words. 

Subjects: Business History

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