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|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
|Eric Barnett, Chief executive officer|
Number of employees
Kleinwort Hambros, formerly Kleinwort Benson, is a leading private bank owned by Société Générale that offers a wide range of financial services from offices throughout the United Kingdom and Channel Islands. The bank has its headquarters on St George Street in Mayfair in London's West End and has offices in London, Cambridge, Newbury, Leeds, Edinburgh, Guernsey, Jersey and Gibraltar.
Two families, the Kleinworts and the Bensons, founded two very different merchant banks in London. They merged in 1961 to create Kleinwort Benson Lonsdale, later Kleinwort Benson Group. Following its acquisition by Société Générale in 2016, it was merged with SG Hambros to form the current business.
Kleinwort Hambros focuses on private banking, providing a comprehensive range of services for high net worth individuals and corporate clients, managing liquid and illiquid assets including a provision of corporate advice and private office capabilities.
The earliest known Kleinwort to go into banking was 24-year-old Heinrich Kleinwort, a grandfather of Sir Alexander Drake Kleinwort, 1st Baronet. In 1786, Heinrich 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.
Kleinworts also helped finance Francisco Franco's coup d'etat in Spain by approving a credit of 800,000 pounds at 4% interest on 15 Septiembre 1937. A month later Kleinworts agreed another loan of 1,500,000 pounds sterling at 3%.
In 1947 Robert Benson and Co. merged with Lonsdale Investment Trust (founded by Leo Lonsdale) to form Robert Benson, Lonsdale and Co. This doubled the bank's capital base and enabled it to participate in larger deals. The Benson family interest in the group was watered down to 27%; the Lonsdale family owned 63% but operational control of bank remained with its Chairman Rex Benson.
The Kleinworts and the Bensons merged their firms in 1961 to form Kleinwort Benson Lonsdale, of which the Kleinwort shareholders held 46% and the Benson shareholders 56%. Kleinwort Benson Group 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 October 2009, Commerzbank sold Kleinwort Benson to RHJ International.
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.
- Yarker, Jonathan (7 June 2016). "Soc Gen completes Kleinwort Benson buy". City Wire. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- Thurston, Joshua (17 November 2016). "Kleinwort loses historic Benson name after mega-merger". City Wire. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- "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.