The National Bank of India was formed in 1863 and became one of the larger London overseas banks operating not only in the Indian sub-continent but in communities around the Indian Ocean. In 1948 it purchased the very much smaller Grindlays Bank, renaming itself National and Grindlays some ten years later. Following further acquisitions, its name was shortened to Grindlays Bank in 1974. Grindlays was taken over by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in 1984 and renamed ANZ Grindlays Bank. Standard Chartered Bank acquired ANZ Grindlays in 2000. After the merger the Grindlays name fell out of use.
National Bank of India
The Calcutta City Banking Corporation was formed in 1863 as an Indian registered bank, changing its name to the National Bank of India (NBI) a few months later. Offices in London and Bombay followed in 1864 and 1865. Crucial to the Bank’s future, its head office was transferred to London in 1866 and the Company was registered under the UK Companies Act, giving it much greater international potential, but it was a move that was fiercely contested for many years.
NBI remained with these three offices until 1870 when it sought to exploit opportunities in China with a branch in Hong Kong and, later, in Shanghai. Substantial losses threatened the Bank and the Chinese operations were eventually closed. Without neglecting its domestic market, NBI began to expand around the fringes of the Indian Ocean, particularly Aden and East Africa; by 1900 NBI had 19 branches and £10m of assets.
Steady expansion continued through the early 1900s and by the outbreak of World War I NBI was the seventh largest of the London-registered overseas banks. Growth continued during the War and by 1918 the Bank’s assets were £33m with record profits of over £400,000. Around that time, detailed discussions took place with Lloyds Bank and agreement was reached in principle for Lloyds to acquire NBI but, according to the Bank’s official history, the proposal was vetoed by “the authorities”.
The inter-war years saw NBI stagnate; only two new branches were opened and there was no growth in the Bank’s assets. More substantial change was to come after the Second World War. In August 1947 India was granted independence with all the turmoil that entailed in the Bank’s main market. Undaunted, the following year NBI purchased Grindlays Bank from National Provincial Bank; Grindlays then had deposits of around £20m compared with over £70m for NBI.
Robert Melville Grindlay established a firm, Leslie & Grindlay, in London in 1828, to arrange passage to and from India for customers and their baggage. In time, the firm added private banking activities to its menu of services. Changes in partners caused the firm to change its name to Grindlay, Christian & Matthews in 1839 and Grindlay & Co. from 1843. R.M. Grindlay retired in 1852. The firm remained based solely in London until 1854 when offices were opened at Calcutta and then Bombay in 1865. These offices were largely autonomous, administered from London, until the local partners interests were bought out in 1908. Additional branches were opened in Simla (1912), Delhi (1923), Lahore (1924) and Peshawar (1926).
Grindlays was regarded as “pre-eminently bankers to the Indian Army” and it did little commercial banking. The failure of army bankers, Macgrigors, in 1922 and then the Alliance Bank of Simla in 1923 encouraged the Grindlays partners to seek the security of a larger organisation. In 1924 the Bank was acquired by the National Provincial Bank, converted into a company and allowed to operate independently. When National Provincial decided to exit overseas banking in 1948, it sold Grindlays to the National Bank of India, in which it took a small share position.
National and Grindlays
NBI and Grindlays were not merged operationally until 1958 under the name National Overseas and Grindlays Bank, renamed National and Grindlays Bank (NGB) in 1959. In 1961, NGB exchanged a 25 per cent share in NGB for Lloyds Bank’s Eastern Division, an operation which included the celebrated Cox’s Bank, "par excellence bankers to the British Army". In 1968 National Provincial Bank sold its shareholding to Lloyds Bank and in 1969, Citibank took a 40 per cent stake in NGB.
Also in 1969, the Ottoman Bank sold its branches in London, Cyprus, Sudan, Jordan, Qatar, East Africa, the Emirates and Rhodesia to the National and Grindlays Bank, which dropped the National prefix in 1975. Grindlays Bank later bought the Ottoman Bank's separate operations in France and Geneva, Banque Ottomane, and renamed them Grindlays Bank - France.
In 1984 Citibank and Lloyds sold Grindlays to the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. In 1989, five years after it acquired Grindlays, ANZ changed Grindlays' name to ANZ Grindlays Bank and transferred its domicile (requiring an Act of Parliament) to Australia in 1995. In 1993, ANZ Grindlays sold its African operations to Standard Bank Investment Corporation (Stanbic), which was the holding company for Standard Bank of South Africa's operations outside South Africa. Standard Chartered Bank had sold its shares in Standard Bank of South Africa to the bank's existing shareholders in 1987 to escape anti-apartheid sanctions against South Africa.
In 2000, ANZ sold its Grindlays subsidiary to Standard Chartered Plc which merged it with its existing banking operations.
- Geoffrey Tyson, 100 Years of Banking in Asia and Africa, (1963)
- Geoffrey Jones, British Multinational Banking 1830-1990, (1993)
- History of the Bank, from the Ottoman Bank's Archives and Research Centre. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
- "Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Act 1996". Office of Public Sector Information, The National Archives. Retrieved 2009-04-12.