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Kleinwort Benson is a leading private bank that offers a wide range of financial services to private and corporate clients from offices throughout the United Kingdom and Channel Islands. The bank has its headquarters on St George Street in Mayfair and has offices in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and South Africa.
The earliest known Kleinwort to go into banking was 24-year-old Hinrich Kleinwort who, in 1786, set up a partnership with Otto Mueller in Holstein to finance trade with England. In the very same year, Robert Benson joined with William Rathbone IV of the existing house of William Rathbone & Co. to form Rathbone & Benson, a Liverpool business trading mainly with America. Over the course of the 19th century, the Benson family grew its wealth through railway finance in Britain, Europe and America. The Kleinworts established a successful trading business in Cuba, profiting from the expansion of the H. Upmann and Sons cigar business.
The Kleinworts and the Bensons merged their firms in 1961 to form Kleinwort Benson. Kleinwort Benson then became one of the first merchant banks to establish itself in the Channel Islands, having set up offices in Jersey in 1962 and Guernsey in 1963.
Over the course of the 1960s the City saw a huge increase in the volume of mergers and acquisitions and by the end of the decade, Kleinwort Benson was participating in some of the biggest deals on the London market.
In the 1980s, Kleinwort Benson was a pioneer in privatisation. It was the lead adviser on the flotation of British Telecom which, at the time, was the largest public offering ever seen. Kleinwort Benson subsequently acted in the privatisation offerings of Enterprise Oil, Associated British Ports, British Gas and the electricity supply industry in England and Wales. In the 1990s and 2000s, Kleinwort Benson’s expertise was in demand around the world. It advised on privatisations in more than 50 countries and acted as bookrunner and global coordinator for some of the largest and most complex global equity offerings and privatisations throughout Europe. The bank acted as global manager and adviser to the Italian government on the IPO of Enel and advised France Telecom on their IPO of Pages Jaunes. In 1995, Kleinwort Benson was acquired by Dresdner Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort became the investment banking arm of Dresdner Bank. Dresdner became part of Commerzbank in 2009.
In October 2009, after much speculation over who would succeed in the race to buy Kleinwort Benson, RHJ International became the new owners.
Today Kleinwort Benson focuses on private banking, providing a comprehensive range of services to private clients, business owners and entrepreneurs, managing liquid and illiquid assets including a provision of corporate advice and private office capabilities.
Privatisations, flotations, and other major deals
- 1981 — Managed the reprivatisation of British Aerospace, the first of the British Government's programme of disposals
- 1981 — Managed the flotation of Cable & Wireless
- 1984 — Advised the British Government on the sale of 50.2% of British Telecom, the largest ever share issue at the time
- 1984 — Advised on Harrods takeover by the Fayed brothers
- 1993 — Advised on Carlton Communications' £723 million takeover of Central Television
In November 2011 Saffron Tax announced the acquisition of the private client tax compliance business from Kleinwort Benson.
In December 2012 London-based independent advice firm SK Financial bought about 1,000 clients from Kleinwort Benson after purchasing a book of clients that the it felt it could no longer support profitably after the implementation of the Retail Distribution Review.
- "Kleinwort Benson transfers client book to London advisory firm". Financial News. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- "IFA buys book of 1,000 Kleinwort clients in RDR clear-out". FT Advisor. Retrieved 11 July 2014.