Hill Samuel is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lloyds TSB's Offshore Private Banking unit. It was formerly a leading British merchant bank and financial services firm before the takeover by TSB Group Plc. in 1987, which itself merged with Lloyds Bank to become Lloyds TSB in 1995.
In 1832, Marcus Samuel founded a company near the Tower of London to import goods from the Far East. M. Samuel & Co. was successful in the importing business, so by the middle of the 19th century it expanded to the re-exporting business, importing goods worldwide and re-exporting them to Europe and North America.
Recognising the opportunities offered by the emerging rise of the oil industry, in the 1880s Marcus shipped case oil from Russian oil fields to Japan such that by 1888 that he was able to commission his own ships for bulk oil transportation. His first ship, the 'Murex', was the first tanker to pass through the Suez Canal in 1892 and this division of the company exists today as the Royal Dutch Shell Company; originally named the Shell Transport and Trading Company after the popular imports of sea shells of the time.
By the 20th century, Hill Samuel & Co. Limited was created in 1965 by the merger of M. Samuel & Co. and Philip Hill, Higginson, Erlanger’s Limited. On the 10 December 1969, Hill Samuel Australia Limited opened its doors in Sydney with a staff of three executives. Offering a range of financial services and products with the expertise and fame of its parent company, Hill Samuel Australia began to win significant mandates. Following a proposal to the Australian Federal Government in 1985, Macquarie Bank Limited was established in February of that year as part of the restructure of Hill Samuel Australia as an independent trading bank. These small steps have led Macquarie Bank to be one of the most successful diversified provider of financial products originating in Australia.
Before the merger with TSB Group Plc., Hill Samuel's 1987 Pre-tax profits were primarily of consisted of merchant banking (50%); as well as investment management services (27%); employee benefit services (13%); and insurance (6%).
In 1987, Hill Samuel had suspended trading in its shares on the London Stock Exchange amid signs that it would accept a merger bid from the Union Bank of Switzerland, as the two groups began takeover talks in July. However, by October of that year a final successful takeover bid was made by the TSB Group Plc., one of the United Kingdom's largest retail banks at the time.