International Westminster Bank

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International Westminster Bank
Subsidiary undertaking
FateMerger with National Westminster Bank
SuccessorNational Westminster Bank
Headquarters41 Threadneedle Street, London EC2
Number of employees
900 (1980)
ParentNational Westminster Bank

International Westminster Bank Plc was a wholly owned subsidiary of National Westminster Bank and its predecessors from 1913 to 1989, with branches in London, France, Spain and West Germany.

At the peak of its operations during the 1980s, the bank had a multibillion-pound deposit base, principally through its London office, which administered the commercial loan and deposit book on behalf of National Westminster Bank's International Division. As such, it engaged in wholesale fixed term deposits with other banks, corporates and some individual private customers; it accepted short term and medium deposits (up to 12 months) against issuance of its own dollar and sterling denominated certificates of deposit (CDs); and it administered commercial loans to corporate clients and sovereign governments.


The bank was formed in 1913, as London County and Westminster Bank (Paris) Limited. It was renamed London County Westminster and Parr's Foreign Bank Limited in 1920 and Westminster Foreign Bank Limited in 1923, before assuming its final identity as International Westminster Bank Limited in 1973.

Westminster Foreign Bank was granted a limited deposit licence in 1961, enabling it to start trading in the Eurodollar market. Its London deposit dealing desk was merged with National Westminster Bank's foreign exchange dealing desk in 1979, to form a combined trading operation named World Money Centre. This was located at 52-53 Threadneedle Street.[1]

The London branch of International Westminster Bank, at 41 Threadneeedle Street, continued to handle the back office settlements for the World Money Centre. In 1982, much of the London branch was relocated to NatWest's Drapers Gardens tower in nearby Throgmorton Avenue. The branch moved to its final location at the Kings Cross House tower block, 200 Pentonville Road, in the mid 1980s.

In 1980, National Westminster Bank acquired Global Bank AG; two years later, in 1982, International Westminster Bank's Frankfurt branch was merged with Global Bank, to form Deutsche Westminster Bank AG.

In 1988, International Westminster Bank's branches in France and Monaco were incorporated into National Westminster Bank S.A. After 80 years, NatWest announced its exit from French retail banking in 1993.[2]

Eventually, the only remaining branch was the London office. Due to changes in international bank taxation arrangements, the bank's ongoing existence no longer offered any commercial advantage.[3] In 1989, International Westminster Bank Plc was merged into National Westminster Bank Plc by a Private Act of Parliament.[4]


International Westminster Bank's foreign currency deposit and loan trading floor at 52-53 Threadneedle Street, London in 1981.

The bank opened the following branches between its formation in 1913 and its closure in 1989:

Branch Opened
London 1913
Paris 1913
Bordeaux 1917
Lyons 1918
Marseilles 1918
Nantes 1919
Madrid 1917
Barcelona 1917
Antwerp 1919
Brussels 1919
Bilbao 1919
Valencia 1920
Nice 1970
Frankfurt 1972

Other operations[edit]

During the existence of International Westminster Bank, the parent National Westminster Bank operated a number of domestic banking subsidiaries incorporated overseas.

National Westminster Bancorp[edit]

National Westminster Bank USA was formed in 1983 from the 1978 acquisition of the National Bank of North America. Following the 1988 acquisition of First Jersey National Bank, National Westminster Bancorp, Inc. was formed as a US holding company for National Westminster Bank USA and National Westminster Bank NJ. In 1995, the subsidiaries were amalgamated into NatWest Bank, N.A. The Bancorp business was sold to Fleet Financial Group in 1996.

National Westminster Bank of Canada[edit]

National Westminster Bank of Canada (French: Banque National Westminster du Canada), was formed in 1982, providing domestic and international banking services through its branches in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. The Canadian operation was sold to Hongkong Bank of Canada, a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings in 1998.

NatWest Australia Bank[edit]

The bank's reputation and long-standing involvement in meeting the financial needs of Australian enterprises were factors which led to NatWest Australia Bank Limited obtaining a trading bank licence in 1986.[5] The retail banking assets and liabilities in South and Western Australia were sold to Challenge Bank (acquired by Westpac Banking Corporation in 1995) and in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to the State Bank of New South Wales (acquired by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 2000) for an undisclosed amount in 1993.

Banco NatWest España[edit]

Banco NatWest España S.A. was formed in 1990 by acquisition of the controlling interest in Banco NatWest March. The Spanish operation was sold to Banco Sabadell in 1996.

National Westminster (Hong Kong)[edit]

National Westminster (Hong Kong) Limited was formed in 1974, providing short and medium term loans in Hong Kong dollars and foreign currencies, foreign exchange and deposit taking facilities.

Handelsbank NatWest[edit]

The Coutts Group was formed in 1990 from Handelsbank NW in Zurich and NatWest International Trust Holdings to give Coutts & Co. opportunities in more jurisdictions. NatWest International Trust Corporation (Jersey) Limited, known as National Westminster Jersey Trust Company Limited from 1969 to 1988, became Coutts & Co (Jersey) Limited in 1991.

Associated companies[edit]

RoyWest Banking Corporation[edit]

RoyWest Banking Corporation Limited in Nassau, Bahamas was jointly owned by National Westminster Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and Montreal Trust Company. Formed in 1965, to undertake mortgage and international investment banking in the British West Indies, it became RoyWest Holdings Limited when the bank increased its shareholding in 1977, then NatWest International Trust Holdings Ltd. in 1987.

Banca Creditwest e dei Comuni Vesuviani[edit]

Banca Creditwest e dei Comuni Vesuviani S.p.A. (formerly Banca Milanese di Credito) was majority owned by Credito Italiano with National Westminster Bank as a minority shareholder. It had around 30 branches in Rome, Milan and Naples.

Van Lanschot's Beleggings-Compagnie[edit]

In 1973, National Westminster Bank acquired a minority interest in the Dutch firm F. van Lanschot, Bankiers B.V. From the early 1990s, until it sold its interest in 1994, NatWest was the majority shareholder.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Article "World Money Centre", published in "Bankground", NatWest in-house magazine 1979
  2. ^ Vaughan, Lisa NatWest says 'adieu' to French retail banking after 80 years The Independent, 13 May 1993
  3. ^ Royal Bank of Scotland archives,,_London,_1913-89
  4. ^ International Westminster Bank Act 1989 (c. xvi)
  5. ^ Report and Accounts (p. 14), National Westminster Bank Plc, 1985