Big Four (banking)
In Australia, the "big four banks" refers to the four largest banks by market share, who between them hold 80% of the home loan markets in the country. In 2012, their combined total asset is A$2.66 trillion, which is about 200% of Australian GDP in 2011. These are:
- National Australia Bank
- Commonwealth Bank (CBA) (government owned until 1996)
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, or ANZ
A longstanding policy of the federal government in Australia has been to maintain this status quo, called the "four pillars policy". The policy has been maintained through the Global Recession of 2008–09, as Westpac acquired St.George Bank and the Commonwealth Bank acquired Bankwest, reinforcing the special status of the "big four".
Being New Zealand's closest neighbour, with very close ties culturally and economically, has helped Australia dominate the banking sector there. Often referred to collectively as the 'big banks' or the 'big Aussie banks', the "Big Four" Australian banks also dominate the New Zealand banking sector in the form of:
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, or ANZ, also comprising the former business of The National Bank.
- ASB Bank, formerly Auckland Savings Bank, wholly owned by the Commonwealth Bank
- The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), wholly owned by the National Australia Bank
- Westpac, formerly known as WestpacTrust after a merger with the Trust Bank.
These four subsidiaries are massively profitable and in some cases even outperform the Australian parent company. The extent to which they dominate the banking sector can be seen in profits: In the 2012/2013 financial year, the largest of the Big Banks, ANZ New Zealand, made a profit of NZ$1.37 billion. The smallest, BNZ, made a profit of NZ$695 million. State-owned Kiwibank, community trust-owned TSB Bank, SBS Bank (formerly Southland Building Society) and Heartland Bank, the next four largest banks by profit, made NZ$97 million, NZ$73.5 million, NZ$14 million and NZ$7 million (albeit with an underlying result of about NZ$30 million) respectively. In other words, the profit of New Zealand's next four largest banks (after the Big Four) is equal to less than 30% of the smallest of the Big Four, BNZ.
During the 1920s, the term “Big Four” applied to the Four Northern Banks of the Republic of China (i.e. the four most capitalized commercial banks in Northern China). These were the Yien Yieh Commercial Bank, the Kincheng Banking Corporation, the Continental Bank and The China & South Sea Bank. These were contrasted with the Three Southern Banks of Southern China.
By 1949, the Big Four banks were the Bank of China, the Bank of Communications, the Central Bank of China and the Farmers Bank of China. All four were state-owned banks. These four, together with Central Trust of China, Postal Savings and Remittance Bureau of China, Central Cooperative Treasury of China, were called the "Four Banks, Two Bureaus, One Treasury" or "四行两局一库".
Currently, in the People's Republic of China, the Big Four commercial banks ("四大商业银行") are:
- Bank of China
- China Construction Bank
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
- Agricultural Bank of China
and have been described as such in the western press. All four are state-owned banks with commercial banking operations.
In Ireland, the term "big four" applies to the four largest banks by market capitalisation. These all operate in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and have a wider international presence.
- Bank of Ireland
- Allied Irish Banks (operates as First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland)
- National Irish Bank (operated as Northern Bank in Northern Ireland) - Irish Branch of Danske Bank since 2007.
- Ulster Bank - Subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group since 2000/2001.
With the recent announcement that Danske Bank are to reduce their operations in the Republic of Ireland, many in the industry have argued that KBC Bank Ireland have replaced them as part of the Big Four Banks.
- Standard Bank (Not related to Standard Chartered Bank)
- FirstRand Bank (operators of First National Bank)
- Nedbank - owned by Old Mutual.
- Absa Group - majority owned by Barclays since 2005; remainder owned by the public.
In relation to the United Kingdom, the phrase "big four banks" is currently used to refer to the four largest UK-based banking groups, being:
- Barclays Bank (part of Barclays);
- Midland Bank (now HSBC Bank and part of HSBC);
- Lloyds Bank (part of Lloyds Banking Group); and
- National Westminster Bank ("NatWest") (now part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group).
- JPMorgan Chase (headquartered in New York City)
- Bank of America (headquartered in Charlotte)
- Citigroup (headquartered in New York City)
- Wells Fargo (headquartered in San Francisco)
From a purely retail banking perspective, U.S. Bancorp and PNC Financial Services both have significantly more branches than Citibank, the retail banking arm of Citigroup. However, Citibank still has significantly more assets than U.S. Bancorp and PNC.
- Big Five (banks), Canada
- "Big four banks lower fixed rates - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)"
- "NZ's big banks record $3.5b profit - Business - NZ Herald News",
- Four Northern Banks
- Yao Sui: Chinese Finance History, High Education Publisher in 2007, Beijing. (in Chinese: 《中国金融史》，姚遂主编，高等教育出版社，2007年版)
- "Anglo Irish Bank Corporation (Executive Summary)". SME Financial. Retrieved 2012-01-17 "...The only banks with higher market capitalisation were Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and Bank of Ireland, both with strong retail and commercial presences. Ulster Bank and National Irish Bank are the other members of the ‘Big Four’ retail and commercial banks, both owned by overseas parents and not listed on the Irish Stock Exchange".
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- The Big Four by D Rogers
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- Banks Ranked by Number of Branches
- Banks Ranked by Total Assets