Welcome to BES

Ricardo Salgado
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Historical Overview

Banco Espírito Santo e Comercial de Lisboa (BES) traces its origins back to the second half of the 19th century, when José Maria do Espírito Santo Silva established a foreign exchange business.

The Bank was founded in March 1920, with an original capital of PTE 3.6 million, as the outcome of an upgrade of the then already-existing banking house of Espírito Santo Silva & Cª.

Banco Espírito Santo grew rapidly during subsequent years. Its branch network spread out all over Portugal, and the share capital doubled with assets rising to ten times their initial figure.

In October 1937, Banco Espírito Santo merged with Banco Comercial de Lisboa. The latter having been established in 1885. The new institution was named Banco Espírito Santo e Comercial de Lisboa, and continued to be presided over by the banker, Ricardo Ribeiro Espírito Santo Silva. This merger led to Banco Espírito Santo's assets increasing by around one third.

After the merger, and during the Second World War, the Bank pursued a strategy of geographical expansion, initially focused on more closely covering the Lisbon urban region. By the end of the 40s the Bank had increased the number of its branches to 34, and the share capital had doubled again. While the volume of assets had also virtually grown two-fold.

Between the 50s and 60s BES intensified its expansion in Portugal by opening more than 50 branches. Its assets were up ten-fold and two capital increases were made. The Madeira-based "Cassa Bancaria Blandy Brothers, Lda." was also taken over during this period.

Meanwhile, and in addition to setting up a wide network of foreign correspondents, in 1967 the Bank began globalizing by acquiring a stake in the capital of Banque Interatlantique, Luxembourg.

In the 70s, BES strengthened its role as a major financial institution, operating in different areas, both domestically and internationally. By the end of the decade BES was operating 100 branches. In 1973, in partnership with Citibank, New York, it established the Banco Inter-Unido, in Luanda, Angola. This added up to the acquisition of a stake in the capital of the London-based Libra Bank consortium.

In the wake of the political events which took place in 1974, like all other Portuguese credit institutions, it was nationalized in March 1975, becoming a state-owned institution.

In the 80s, within a new financial environment, the number of branches rose from 110 to 171. The Bank's capital was raised from PTE 1.2 billion to PTE 40 billion and its assets increased from PTE 156 to 1.197 billion. It also broadened its overseas presence, with a view to meeting the challenges posed by the opening of the Portuguese economy to wider cross-border trade. Thus, 1980 saw the opening of the London branch, followed by New York and Nassau in 1985 (the Madrid and Madeira Offshore branches came at later dates). It was during this period that BES joined the European Inter-Alpha Banking Group.

In the early 90s, representative offices were also opened in Paris, Milan, Luanda and Moscow (in association with Inter-Alpha member banks). The reprivatization of Banco Espírito Santo e Comercial de Lisboa was set in motion on July 9, 1991, when 40% of its share capital was sold. This was followed by the sale of the remaining 60% on February 25, 1992. As a result, the Espirito Santo Group returned to the Bank and became its main shareholder.

On the international front, BES currently operates a fully-owned bank in Spain with a network of 27 branches, called Banco Espírito Santo S.A.. It holds a 20% stake in Société Bancaire de Paris (France) along with branches in Lausanne, London, Nassau, Madeira Offshore, Madrid and New York. Representative offices are located in Caracas, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Luanda, Milan, Paris, Toronto, S. Paulo and Shanghai. An office for expatriates operates in Newark.

At the end of 1995 a new subsidiary bank was established in Macao - Banco Espírito Santo do Oriente, SARL - representing the first operational presence of BES in the Far East region. This move was recently followed by the establishment of a representative office in Shanghai, as indicated above.

By the end of 1997, an important stake was taken up in Banco Boavista Inter-Atlântico, a universal and commercial Brazilian banking institution, running some 70 branches, mostly located in the S. Paulo and Rio de Janeiro areas. Stakes are also held in Kredyt Bank PBI, SA, Poland and Société Bancaire de Paris.


At home, Banco Espírito Santo also operates the largest single integrated network of branches, with over 479 locations spread throughout Portugal. In its move towards building up an integrated financial group, BES has major holdings in a number of banks and companies, among which the following are of particular importance: Banco Internacional de Crédito, based in Lisbon, whose core activities are commercial, mortgage and private banking; Companhia de Seguros Tranquilidade, the largest insurance company operating in Portugal; Besleasing, also the top leasing company in the country; BESI, a leading investment Bank; ESAF, a mutual and fund holding company, dedicated to securities and property, in Portugal and abroad.


Other companies undertaking a wide spectrum of business activities such as factoring, retail and consumer credit, credit cards, brokerage, information systems and EDP, medical care and security services are also part of the BES Group.

BES enjoys the highest rating among Portuguese banks, namely those granted by Standard & Poor's and Moody's: A and A2, for medium and long term; A1 and P1 for short term, respectively.

Banco Espirito Santo has also consistently been the most profitable bank in Portugal, constituting one of the major names quoted on the Lisbon Stock Exchange.


Banco Espírito Santo and its subsidiaries

The Financial Group

Banco Espírito Santo is a century-old institution that through expansion at home and abroad has grown into the global financial group it is today.

Expanding into areas complementary to traditional banking has enabled our Group to provide specialized corporate products and services such as capitalization instruments. Just to give a few examples - capital market operations, investment funds, loan stock underwriting, company assessments, mergers and acquisitions, specialized support for franchising, factoring, consumer credit, corporate globalization, etc.
In essence, BES's role is that of the coordinator for a vast group of specialized companies operating on both domestic and international markets. That is how we are able to take maximum advantage of existing synergies when supplying products and services tailored to meet your corporate needs.

Banco Espírito Santo
and Private Customers

Banco Espírito Santo offers you a financial range designed with your needs in mind. We place a premium on beneficial guidance and good customer relations. Just get in touch and ask us for more information about the products we have to offer.

A sample of
product areas

  • Routine Management
  • Savings and Investment
  • Tax Benefits
  • Credit
  • Services

Sector Banking
Firm Banco Espirito Santo
Location Lisbon
Address Av. da Liberdade, 195
Postal Code 1250-142 Lisboa
Web site www.bes.pt
E-mail info@bes.pt
Phone +351.21. 3501000
Fax +351.21. 8557698

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