Interesting history of Standard Bank. A little dry, but that was to be expected. Worthwhile to get context on where the company has come from.

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Dates 30 March 2013 – 23 February 2014
Time spent reading 8 hours, 5 minutes
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Only once to date – way back in 1865 – has it failed to pay a dividend.

‘It’s very good feng shui for a bank to be built on a gold mine’ remarked Jiang Jianquing, chairman of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), as he was taken by Standard Bank’s chief executive JH ‘Jacko’ Maree on a tour of the restored mining stope beneath the bank’s headquarters in central Johannesburg.

The Chinese bank was obliged, under South African law, as a would-be less than 35% shareholder, to negotiate without being given access to unpublished, price-sensitive information in its due diligence investigations. Throughout the negotiations, ICBC operated from a basis of trust.

Not long after the new Stanbic Bank Zaire came into existence, a foreign exchange fraud dating back to 1986 and amounting to several million US dollars was uncovered. Over a fifth of staff members were found to be involved in the operation and summarily dismissed.

Staff members contemplating marriage had to notify their managers in time to allow the Bank ‘to investigate the prudence of the intended step’. If the Bank’s advice was disregarded, chances of promotion and even the officer’s job itself was at risk.

By the time it was called off, the Rand Revolt of 1922 had claimed twice as many lives as the entire South West African campaign in World War I.

Popular and highly respected, Edmunds refused to accept a pension from the Bank because he felt he had been sufficiently well paid as chairman.

Notwithstanding the turmoil in global financial markets, recessionary symptoms in South Africa and the introduction of Basel 2’s capital adequacy requirements, Standard Bank was able to report profits in 2008 that were 8% higher than the previous year.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Impressive given the global context.

One of Bond’s early aims was to get to know the top executives of China’s fifty leading companies. As relationships in China are generally forged over long meals, this meant more than 150 business dinners in his first 12 months.