Sunday, April 29, 2012

C M L (Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited)

The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited (CML) was launched in 1873. Melbourne was by then a city transformed by gold and there were strong aspirations to form cooperative organisations based on mutual benefit. T. Jaques Martin was the Society's founder and first General Manager, and Sir Redmund Barry the first President.

The new Society had its headquarters at 419 Collins Street, and by the end of 1874 had established offices in all other capital cities in the Australian colonies. Attention then turned to overseas and CML branches were established in Fiji (1876), South Africa (1883) and New Zealand (1884). In 1886, CML became the first of the Australian life offices to commence operations in the United Kingdom.

The Society survived recessions and depressions and grew steadily, such that by the 1920s it had outgrown its old premises. It purchased the Equitable Building, then the best known commercial building in Melbourne, in 1923. Soon after, it pioneered the system of payroll deductions for paying insurance premiums.

By the late 1950s, the Company's expansion had once again led to its headquarters becoming inadequate, so a decision was made to demolish and rebuild on site. Appreciating the significance of the building however, CML published both a booklet on its history and an album of photographs. CML continued to diversify its business, moving into the general insurance field then, in 1980, forming a permanent building society as a subsidiary. In the 1990s it extended its activities into Southeast Asia.

The company demutualised in 1996, was listed on the Stock Exchange in 1997, then merged with the Commonwealth Bank in 2000. Material in the CML archives was distributed between the Commonwealth Bank,  Melbourne University, and Museum Victoria.

by Paul Green

C U A G (Commercial Union Assurance Company)

The company was established in response to premium increases following the great London Tooley Street fire of June 1861. Provisionally called the Commercial Union Fire Insurance Company, the company established temporary offices at 34 Gracechurch Street in London and experienced its first major loss under a policy taken out by George Dowlers, a Birmingham brass founder, in 1862.

Although established to transact fire business, the company added life assurance in 1862 (when it also began to offer fire insurance overseas) and marine in 1863. In 1900, the company expanded its business to include burglary and accident insurance followed by plate glass insurance in 1901 and trustee and executor business by 1905.

Over the last quarter of a century the company has undergone a number of changes. On 4 January 1982, it was renamed the Commercial Union Assurance Company plc and its holding company, Commercial Union Plc announced a merger with the General Accident Plc on 25 February 1998.

On 1 October 1999, the company's name changed to CGU International Insurance Plc, a subsidiary of the new holding company CGU Plc. On February 21 2000, CGU announced a merger with Norwich Union Plc to form CGNU Plc, which was re-branded in July 2002 as Aviva Plc. Finally, on September 1 2006, CGU International Insurance changed its name to Aviva International Insurance.

by Paul Green

Higgins Eagle & Co.

The following was published in the The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine By Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, Dec. 1897:

Richard Higgins. Was born July 1st, 1816, and died June 24th, 1894. He was the son of poor parents — William and Sarah Higgins, of Everley, and began life as an apprentice in a general shop at Ludgershall. By his industry and energy he raised himself from one position to another until he became city traveller to the large lace firm of Fisher & Co., and on the death of Mr. Fisher he began business on his own account. A man of fine physique, of high character and great enterprise, the firm which he founded—that of Messrs. Higgins, Eagle, & Co., of Cannon St., London, met with much success, and in the latter part of his life he purchased "The Oaks," near Epsom, formerly well known as a residence of the Earls of Derby. He died in London, and was buried in Abney Park Cemetery.

by Paul Green

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Smith & Ritchie

 Smith and Ritchie were established in at 71 Albert Street, Edinburgh in 1853. The firm were multi-color offset printers who were specialist suppliers to the food packaging industry. They were located at Amphion Works in Albert Street. In 1963 Smith & Ritchie became the first printing company in Scotland to use a gravure press and produced reel-fed work up to five colors.

Smith & Ritchie moved to Livingston in 1986 and in 1991 became the first printing firm in Scotland to use a 10-station gravure press.

They have subsequently moved out to Livingston and survive today as Amcor Flexibles S & R. Amcor, who are originally an Australian company, now have operations in 36 countries around the world specializing in many printed products of which the food packaging that Amcor Flexibles S & R is one.

by Paul Green

Walpamur Co. Ltd.

Based in Darwen near Blackburn, Lancs, the company was formed in 1899 to merge the interests of 31 wallpaper manufacturers. The group, which at the time controlled around 98% of the British wallpaper market, went on to acquire several independent wallpaper manufacturers and either bought or set up a large number of retailing businesses. By August 1906, WPM diversified into the manufacture and distribution of paint with 'Hollins Distemper', a water paint named after the Hollins Paper Mill in Darwen where the laboratory had been set up and production first took place. Originally paint was brought by horse-drawn wagons to the local train station twice a day. However, growing demand led WPM to improve its distribution network. By 1910, the company had set up several depots across the country to speed up deliveries, while six traveling salesmen promoted its water and by then brand-new oil based paints. In 1915 WPM set up Walpamur Co. Ltd to handle the manufacture and retailing of paint.

In 1929, when Arthur Sanderson & Sons, of Perivale near London, was fully acquired by the WPM group, Walpamur took charge of the paint side of the business. Four years later, in 1933, the Walpamur Company (Ireland) was founded in Dublin. This was the step in the international expansion of the company. Over the years subsidiaries were set up in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several African countries. Meanwhile in Britain, Walpamur acquired in 1934 a large number of wholesale paint and wallpaper distributing companies.

In the early 1960s, the WPM group came under investigation by the Competition Commission. Indeed, in spite of growing competition, WPM still controlled 79% of the wallpaper market and its pricing policy raised some questions. The paint side of the business was also of concern. By 1964, Walpamur had 89 depots, 42 of which were owned by subsidiaries, and six of which were jointly operated with Smith & Walton. Originally a manufacturer of paint based in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, Smith & Walton had moved into the wallpaper business in 1955, becoming in the process one of the main competitors of WPM, but in 1961 it was acquired by the latter. This meant taking control not only of the production lines of Smith & Walton but also of 23 depots and over 300 Brighter Homes Stores. Probably as a result of the investigation, WPM sold Walpamur in 1965 to Reed International.

Traditionally Walpamur concentrated on water-based paints, which bore its name, but after the Second World War it introduced new products such as Darwen, which offered a satin finish for kitchens and bathrooms, and Duradio, an enamel paint for exteriors. By the 1970s the company began producing emulsion paints. Feeling the name Walpamur was too closely associated with water paints, it was decided in 1975 to change it to Crown Decorative Products.

The company was acquired by Wiliams Holdings in 1987, and in 1988 the name was changed to Crown Berger. In 1993 Crown Berger was taken over by Nobel (from 1994 AkzoNobel) but when AkzoNobel acquired in 2008 Imperial Chemical Industries, the maker among others of Dulux paint, the European Commissioner for Competition feared the company would have a near monopoly in several countries, including the UK. As a result AkzoNobel decided to sell Crown Berger in a management buyout backed by private equity firm Endless LLP.

by Paul Green

Sunday, April 8, 2012

William Crawford and Sons Ltd.

William Crawford and Sons Ltd. was founded in Leith in 1813 as a local bakery. The business expanded to the point where large-scale production became necessary.

In 1860 a factory was opened in Leith, and in 1897 another started production in Liverpool under the management of James S. R. Crawford and Archibald I. Crawford, William Crawford's sons.

A business was also established in London by John Crawford (1856-1922). The company was incorporated in 1924.

In 1962, the firm merged with two other famous firms of Scottish origin, McVitie and Price and MacFarlane Lang, to form the United Biscuits Group.

The Leith factory of William Crawford and Sons Ltd. was closed in 1971.

by Paul Green

State Bank of India

The State Bank of India (SBI) is the largest Indian banking and financial services company (by turnover and total assets) with its headquarters in Mumbai, India. It is state-owned. The bank traces its ancestry to British India, through the Imperial Bank of India, to the founding in 1806 of the Bank of Calcutta, making it the oldest commercial bank in the Indian Subcontinent. Bank of Madras merged into the other two presidency banks, Bank of Calcutta and Bank of Bombay to form Imperial Bank of India, which in turn became State Bank of India. The government of India nationalized the Imperial Bank of India in 1955, with the Reserve Bank of India taking a 60% stake, and renamed it the State Bank of India. In 2008, the government took over the stake held by the Reserve Bank of India.

The State Bank Group, with over 16,000 branches, has the largest banking branch network in India. SBI has 14 Local Head Offices and 57 Zonal Offices that are located at important cities throughout the country. It also has around 130 branches overseas.

With an asset base of $352 billion and $285 billion in deposits, SBI is a regional banking behemoth and is one of the largest financial institutions in the world. It has a market share among Indian commercial banks of about 20% in deposits and loans. The State Bank of India is the 29th most reputed company in the world according to Forbes. Also SBI is the only bank featured in the coveted "top 10 brands of India" list in an annual survey conducted by Brand Finance and The Economic Times in 2010.

The State Bank of India is the largest of the Big Four banks of India, along with ICICI Bank, Punjab National Bank and HDFC Bank—its main competitors.

As of 31 December 2009, the bank had 157 overseas offices spread over 32 countries. It has branches of the parent in Colombo, Dhaka, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Tehran, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Male in the Maldives, Muscat, Dubai, New York, Osaka, Sydney, and Tokyo. It has offshore banking units in the Bahamas, Bahrain, and Singapore, and representative offices in Bhutan and Cape Town. It also has an ADB in Boston, USA.

by Paul Green

B of E (Bank of England)

The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks are based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in the world (the oldest being the Sveriges Riksbank (Bank of Sweden), established in 1668).

Established to act as the English Government's banker, it maintains the Government's Consolidated Fund account, manages the country's foreign exchange and gold reserves, and acts as the bankers' bank--especially in its capacity as a lender of last resort.

The Bank was privately owned and operated from its foundation in 1694. It was subordinated to the Treasury after 1931 in making policy, and was nationalized in 1946.

In 1998, it became an independent public organization, wholly owned by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the Government, with independence in setting monetary policy.

The Bank is one of eight banks authorized to issue banknotes in the United Kingdom, but has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the issue of banknotes by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee has devolved responsibility for managing the monetary policy of the country. The Treasury has reserve powers to give orders to the committee "if they are required in the public interest and by extreme economic circumstances," but such orders must be endorsed by Parliament within 28 days. The Bank's Financial Policy Committee held its first meeting in June 2011 as a macro prudential regulator to oversee regulation of the UK's financial sector.

The Bank's headquarters has been located in London's main financial district, the City of London, on Threadneedle Street, since 1734. It is sometimes known by the metonym The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street or simply The Old Lady. The current Governor of the Bank of England is Sir Mervyn King, who took over on 30 June 2003 from Sir Edward George.

by Paul Green