Global Business and the Making of the Modern World
Chapter 5: The Imperial Bank of Iran and Iranian economic development, 1890-1952
Between 1889 and 1928 a British bank served as the state bank and bank of issue of Iran (usually known as Persia until the 1930s), and held a virtual monopoly of the modern banking sector of that country. The Imperial Bank of Persia was one of a group of British “overseas banks” founded in the nineteenth century which pioneered banking and established branches in Asia, Australasia, Africa, and South America. A number of these banks built widespread branch networks: the branches of the Oriental Bank Corporation in the 1880s, for instance, spanned Africa, Australasia, and Asia. The geographical spread of operations of these banks was far wider than those of British manufacturing MNEs until after 1945, and they represent a fascinating, and much neglected, manifestation of British international business. The British overseas banks were “free-standing companies.” They did not grow out of the domestic operations of any existing bank headquartered in Britain and conducted no domestic banking, although they sometimes collected British deposits, at least before World War I.
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