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Business: Biggest Bank

2 minute read

Biggest BankIn the reign of Charles Edwin Mitchell the title of “world’s largest bank” passed from London to Manhattan and National City Bank. When Chase National Bank swallowed Equitable Trust three years ago, the title passed from Wall Street to Pine Street. Last week it returned to London. Rising pound and slumping dollar had placed not one but three British banks ahead of the biggest bank in the U. S.

First of Britain’s great banks to report June 30 condition was Barclays. Its total resources of $1,971,900,000 topped Chase by $250,000,000. Chase would have lost its title before this had it not had the advantage of a depreciated pound between 1931 and last April, for Chase resources in the last three years have shrunk steadily from a high of $2,600,000,000 to $1,700,000,000. In Britain, where branch banking is almost the only banking, the “Big Five”— Midland, Lloyds, Barclays, National Provincial, Westminster—control 80% of the business. In May Midland led the London race with resources of $2,200,000,000. Second was Lloyds with $2,000,000,000. But Barclays Bank lays claim to “world’s biggest” because its statements do not include the resources of its controlled Union Bank of Manchester and British Linen Bank (with combined deposits of nearly $240,000.000), nor its vast system of foreign subsidiaries and affiliates. A 249-page handbook is required to list its 2.435 branches in the British Isles, its hundreds of offices scattered through Europe, Africa, the Near East, the West Indies. After the name of the man who rules this banking empire is no list of British titles. Barclays’ handsome, Calcutta-born chairman and now world’s No. i banker is Frederick Craufurd Goodenough, Esq., who got his start not in banking but in another Empire institution, Hudson’s Bay Co. Grandson of a headmaster of Westminster School he is at 67 Britain’s stanchest advocate of Empire-wide banking.

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