Kleinwort, Benson: A History of Two Families in Banking

Synopsis

Kleinwort Benson is one of the most distinguished international investment banks in the City of London, becoming part of the Dresdner Bank Group in 1995. This is the story of how two families, the Kleinworts and the Bensons, emerged from medieval beginnings in Holstein and the Lake District to seek their fortunes in Hamburg, Cuba, and Liverpool, before arriving in the 1850s in London. There they founded two very different merchant banks, which merged in 1967 to create Kleinwort Benson Lonsdale, later Kleinwort Benson. The Kleinwort Benson story mirrors both the spectacular growth of English capital and its often turbulent side-effects. It shows how the two families survived the collapse of the Benson bank in 1875, the freezing of Kleinwort assets and business by the European financial crisis of 1931, and two World Wars, and how they established their banks as powerful City players in the postwar period. Their story is as much a human drama as a financial history. Brimming with generations of Kleinworts, Bensons, and the families with whom they married and formed partnerships, the book evokes their feuds and friendships, their successes and failures, set against the background of more than two hundred years of social and business history. This is the first full history of Kleinwort Benson. It contributes to our understanding of the way in which business is carried out in the City of London, and provides fascinating insights into the lives of those concerned. Jehanne Wake was given unrestricted access to the bank's archives and staff and has drawn upon a wealth of original sources to furnish this lively and readable history of the members of two banking dynasties and their boardroom successors.

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