Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations

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Crown Agents Ltd
Private limited company
Founded 1833. UK statutory public corporation, 1980-1997
21 March 1997 (Ltd.)
Headquarters Sutton, England, UK
Area served
Key people
Paul Batchelor
Terence Jagger (from 7 Mar 2011)

Crown Agents Ltd is an international development company with head office in the United Kingdom. Its main focus is to help governments around the world to increase prosperity, reduce poverty and improve health by providing consultancy, supply chain, financial services and training.[1] In April 2016 its financial services arm (Crown Agents Bank and Crown Agents Investment Management) was sold to Helios Investment Partners, leaving Crown Agents Ltd to focus on offering expertise in the areas of "health, economic development, governance and state building, supply chain services and humanitarian response".[2]

Incorporated as a private limited company Crown Agents Ltd has only one shareholder - the Crown Agents Foundation, a not-for-profit company.[3] Crown Agents Ltd's registered office is in Sutton in Surrey, 11 miles southwest of central London.[4]

International development work[edit]

Crown Agents is an international development company that helps countries to grow their economies, strengthen health systems and improve financial management, through consultancy, supply chain management and financial services.

Crown Agents works with clients in more than 100 countries, major multilateral agencies, such as the World Bank,[5] European Commission, United Nations agencies and bilateral donors such as DFID, KfW, SIDA, CIDA and the Danish, Japanese and U.S. governments.

It has provided governmental services as large as the Customs system of Angola,[6] transforming the central medical stores in Zambia [7] and the Value added tax (VAT) system of Lesotho. It works on sustainable development supporting more effective trade and transit corridors,[8] food security and health systems strengthening.

Projects include improving the livelihood of poor and vulnerable people in South East Asia (SEACAP) and addressing the challenges of providing reliable access for poor communities in Africa.[9] Crown Agents is active in the environmental change arena[10] and is using emerging technologies to contribute to aid effectiveness and value for money in various projects.[11] Helping governments to overcome corruption is another important development task addressed by Crown Agents, including in the collection of tax and customs revenue.[12] Crown Agents Bank is one of the UK's leading banks for disbursement of development aid.

Crown Agents is a member of the Partnership for Supply Chain Management, a partnership of 13 private sector, nongovernmental and faith-based organizations that implements the SCMS project, providing a reliable, cost-effective and secure supply of products for HIV/AIDS programs.[13]


Crown Agents works across a large range of sectors, providing public financial management, humanitarian and crisis response, banking and investment management, procurement and logistics, food security, trade facilitation, health, IT consulting and training.


Crown Agents has subsidiaries in Africa, Asia and the US, as well as two financial services companies regulated in the UK, Crown Agents Bank and Crown Agents Investment Management.[14]

The Crown Agents Foundation[edit]

Crown Agents is owned by "The Crown Agents Foundation", a company limited by guarantee, whose objectives include the alleviation of worldwide poverty. Crown Agents allocates sums from its income to the Foundation's social and developmental objectives and applies these at the Foundation's direction.

Members of the foundation are organisations with a keen interest in international development and include firms, non-governmental organisations and international bodies.

These include: British Expertise,The Aga Khan Foundation, The Chartered Institute of Building, The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, Christian Aid, Charities Aid Foundation, African Medical and Research Foundation, British Council, CARE (relief agency), Commonwealth Business Council, Concern Worldwide, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, Practical Action, International Business Leaders Forum, International Chamber of Commerce, Transparency International and The Royal Commonwealth Society. The British Department for International Development is represented among the Foundation's members.


Prior to 1997, Crown Agents was a UK public statutory corporation, overseen by the British Ministry of Overseas Development.[15]

Crown Agents originated as a body conducting financial transactions for British colonies. Agents were first appointed in 1749 to transfer and account for grants made to colonies from the British Treasury.[15] These representatives were known unofficially as 'crown agents' from at least 1758, and were accountable to colonial governments, though selected on the recommendation of the British government.[15] A single body was created in 1833, when the crown agents' business was consolidated under two Joint Agents General for Crown Colonies with an Office of several staff.[15] In 1861 the Office was renamed Crown Agents for the Colonies.[15] Crown Agents' responsibilities on behalf of colonial governments included accounting for Treasury grants, purchasing supplies, recruiting certain staff and raising capital on the markets. Crown Agents also oversaw specific colonial projects, such as certain postage stamp issues and some infrastructure construction.[15]

As decolonisation accelerated, the Office was renamed Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations in 1954, and the rules were changed to allow it to take on projects for independent states (Iraq being the first example).[15] Crown Agents expanded its activities to include more international development projects and investment management. The world's first sovereign wealth funds were managed by Crown Agents.[16] Its anomalous status as an autonomous body with close links to government came into question, and in 1979 Crown Agents was brought under government control as a statutory corporation. From 1987, shifting attitudes to state ownership of business and changes in British international development strategy led the government to support full privatisation of Crown Agents. It became a private company in 1997, ending its formal ties to the British government.[15]



  • Sunderland, David (2004). Managing the British Empire: The Crown Agents, 1833-1914. Boydell. ISBN 0-86193-267-6. 
  • Sunderland, David (2007). Managing British Colonial and Post-Colonial Development: The Crown Agents, 1914-1974. Boydell. ISBN 1-84383-301-8. 

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