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The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC), United Kingdom

Last modified: 2015-01-24 by rob raeside
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[The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC)] image by Ivan Sache, 30 January 2008

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Partially quoting the HSBC corporate website:

"The HSBC Group is named after its founding member, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, which was established in 1865 to finance the growing trade between Europe, India and China. The inspiration behind the founding of the bank was Thomas Sutherland, a Scot who was then working for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. He realised that there was considerable demand for local banking facilities in Hong Kong and on the China coast and he helped to establish the bank which opened in Hong Kong in March 1865 and in Shanghai a month later. Soon after its formation the bank opened agencies and branches around the world. Although that network reached as far as Europe and North America, the emphasis was on building up representation in China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. HSBC was a pioneer of modern banking practices in a number of countries. In Japan, where a branch was established in 1866, the bank acted as adviser to the government on banking and currency. In 1888, it was the first bank to be established in Thailand, where it printed the country’s first banknotes. By the end of the century, after a strong period of growth and success under the leadership of Thomas Jackson (chief manager for most of that period from 1876 to 1902), the bank was the foremost financial institution in Asia.

By the 1970s the bank had firmly developed a policy of expansion by acquisition or formation of subsidiaries with their own identities and expertise. During the 1980s HSBC concentrated on moving into those markets where it was not yet fully represented. The formation of HSBC Holdings plc in 1991, creating a holding company for the entire Group with its shares quoted in London and Hong Kong, showed that the Group viewed Europe, and the London market in particular, as a vital part of its future development. This strategy was made clear when HSBC Holdings announced that it would make a recommended offer for full ownership of Midland. HSBC’s acquisition of Midland created one of the largest financial organisations of its kind in the world.

In April, HSBC announced a US$11 billion recommended offer for Crédit Commercial de France (CCF). Established in 1894, CCF brought into the Group a network of 650 branches in France and long experience of personal, corporate, investment and private banking, greatly strengthening HSBC’s presence in the euro zone. The deal was completed in July and in that month HSBC Holdings plc was listed on the Paris Stock Exchange for the first time."

The flag of HSBC, as can be seen hoisted on the French seat of the group on the Champs-Elysées (close to Louis Vuitton's seat), is quartered per saltire red and white. I have also seen the flag hoisted on HSBC agencies in several French towns. The similarity of the saltire pattern with the flag of P&O is probably not coincidental, since the founder of the bank had worked for the shipping company. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a connection between HSBC and the Swire Group, maybe via P&O, but I have not found any evidence of such a connection on the Swire corporate website.

The logotype of HSBC shows the flag, countercoloured, with a red triangle appended on each side of the countercoloured "flag".
Ivan Sache, 30 January 2008

An erroneous flag was prominently displayed over the HSBC headquarters in Paris, as reported in This flag had the red and white quarters reversed, and was therefore identical to the flag of F.T. Everard & Sons Ltd..
Ivan Sache, 1 February 2008