Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Bank Leumi Le-Israel - Lehman Brothers Collection

Bank Leumi Le-Israel

List of Deals

In the beginning of the 1900s, a group led by Theodor Herzl founded the Jewish Colonial Trust. The group's aim was to establish a financial institution to promote Zionist colonization in the Palestine region. The trust started the Anglo-Palestine Company in 1902. This London-based company opened an office in Jaffa (now Tel-Aviv) in 1903. The bank was forced to close its offices during World War I, but operated from the Spanish Consulate in Jerusalem. The trust's name later changed to the Jewish Colonial Trust, Limited.

The company changed its name in the mid-1920s to the Anglo-Palestine Bank Ltd., and played a significant role in the development of local agriculture. As the financial instrument of the Zionist Movement, it facilitated and nurtured agricultural colonization during the early days of the Jewish settlement prior to World War I. It also helped maintain the economic activities of the Jewish population of Palestine during the hardships and isolation of World War I. In accordance with the needs of the expanding economy of the country, the bank organized or helped to create financial institutions such as the General Mortgage Bank Limited, Tel-Aviv Securities Clearing House (later to become the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange), the Artisans Bank, the Israel Industrial Bank, the Industrial Development Bank of Israel Limited, Yaad Agricultural Development Bank Limited, and others. The bank also played a leading role in the establishment of the financial instruments and mechanisms used for the transfer to Palestine of the assets of Jews who were fleeing from Germany immediately following the rise of the Nazi regime. The bank helped to anchor the region's economy during World War II and became Israel's fiscal agency when the nation gained independence in 1948. The bank printed monetary notes for the government and began to focus its efforts on international operations. The Anglo-Palestine Bank opened its first U.S. office in New York City in 1950.

In 1951 a company named Leumi le'Israel was founded in Tel Aviv and took control of the bank. The bank changed its name to Bank Leumi le'Israel (National Bank of Israel) in 1954. The bank continued with commercial banking activities, while Israel's government formed its own bank, the Bank of Israel, that year. In 1954 the bank acquired the Palestine Corporation Limited, a financial institution organized in the United Kingdom for operations in Israel. The bank had been one of the most important factors in the development of Israel and played a vital, sometimes decisive, role in practically every phase of economic activity in the country. By 1962 the bank was ranked 151st on the list of the "500 Largest Banks in the Free World," published by the American Banker in New York, and in 1968 it was ranked 144th.

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