Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank N.V. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank N.V.

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The Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank was incorporated in 1964 when the Amsterdam Bank and the Rotterbank Bank, the largest and third-largest commercial banks in the Netherlands, merged. Prior to their merger, these banks were competitors.

The Rotterdam Bank was founded in 1863. In its first decade it operated branches in Singapore and Jakarta, but in 1872 it withdrew from the Dutch colonies and concentrated on the seaport of Rotterdam. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the Rotterdam bank was the first to develop branch banking in Holland, sponsoring the Zuid Nederlandsche Handelsbank and the Nationale Bank Vereeniging in the Dutch provinces. Beginning in 1911, it also began a series of mergers with other banks such as the Deposito and Administratie Bank.

After World War I, the Rotterdam Bank experienced difficult years. During the 1920s, a number of banking ventures established overseas failed due to generally poor economic conditions around the globe. The postwar depression also took a heavy toll on the bank. The Great Depression of the 1930s added more problems for the bank and by the time the bank recovered from the Depression, Europe was once again engaged in war.

After World War II, the Rotterdam Bank helped finance the reconstruction of Holland. The bank grew substantially during the 1950s and 1960s. However, it also began to face increased competition from foreign banks now doing business in the Netherlands. The Rotterdam Bank merged with Amsterdam Bank in 1964 in order to compete with this new foreign competition.

The history of the Amsterdam Bank is somewhat different from that of the Rotterdam Bank. The Amsterdam Bank was founded in 1871 by several Dutch and German banks. After a slow beginning, it began to expand rapidly by opening new branches rather than acquiring existing banks, as preferred by the Rotterdam Bank. After World War I, unlike the Rotterdam Bank, it prospered because of its prudent lending activities.

After World War II, in the late 1940s, the Amsterdam Bank merged with Incasso Bank, making it the largest bank in the Netherlands. The bank continued to grow though the 1950s and, because it was anxious about the growing competition from foreign banks,

chose to merge with the Rotterdam Bank in 1964.

The merger of the two banks formed the Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank (Amro). In 1968 Amro slipped from first to second in size among Dutch commercial banks due to a merger between Amro's chief rivals. By 1974 a worldwide recession slowed Amro's growth, but because the broad international network it had created and conservative lending practices, Amro did not suffer the losses that many foreign banks its size experienced.

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