Storia del Banco di Napoli (Leggi versione in italiano)

It is the oldest Italian bank. It was the bank of issue of the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 to 1926, printing banknotes for about 60 years. It is currently a bank of the banking group Intesa Sanpaolo.

The origins

Banco di Napoli was the result of the merger among the various banks and pawnshops, who were born during the Spanish viceroy in Naples with the aim of helping the poor. The activity of these banks and pawnshops consisted in the provision of small loans to poor people with the guarantee of a pledge which could be represented by small jewelry such as wedding faith or votive medals, or from pieces of trousseau: sheets, blankets, tablecloths. These pledges were delivered to pawnshops who kept them for a certain period of time. Against A policy was issued as receipt. If In the appointed time the policy, plus little interest, was not redeemed, the pledge was sold in auction for the recovery of the loan amount. The pawnshops and the banks were operating, in most cases, in cities where there was a popular class that, although often his members had no means of subsistence, they was still in possession of movable property can give guarantee.

The banks and pawnshops present in Naples before 1794

Banco (or Monte) della Pietà
The first bank, which later merged into the Bank of Naples, was the Banco della Pietà. In 1539 it was founded by some Neapolitan nobles. It began its activities by granting small loans secured by a pledge, to develop into a real banking activities by collecting cash deposits. It began to operate from premises located in the “Giudecca”, in zone of the current Piazza Nicola Amore, then moved into the building of the “Annunziata”, where it obtained some premises. In 1587 since the “Annunziata” administrators founded their bank, the pawnshop was evicted. It found its final resting place in a palace in the Via San Biagio dei Librai. The building is still owned by the Banco di Napoli. Here the lending pledge took place up to day.

Banco dei Poveri
In 1563 the Monte or Banco dei Poveri was founded. The Monte was designed to give small loans without interest, with surety, to the families of the prisoners of the Vicaria, in whose palace the first seat was. Shortly after it moved to the Convent of the Theatine fathers and later at the San Giorgio Maggiore church. In 1616 it had its final resting place in a building in Via Tribunali, nearby the building at the Vicaria. Today it is the headquarters of the Fondazione Banco di Napoli.

Banco della Santissima Annunziata
Banco Ave Grazia Plena, then Banco della Santissima Annunziata, was founded in the house of the “Annunziata” by the nobility that provided the administration of the same, to provide with the earnings of the Bank to the needs of the orphanage and hospital. According to recent studies, already in 1463 a Banco della SS. Annunziata was present within the building complex. This date makes the Bank of Naples, as the heir of the old Banco della SS. Annunziata, the oldest credit institution in Italy. The life of the bank was troubled. In 1639 It suffered a considerable cash shortfall due to a cashier who issued certificates of credit without the necessary cover. In 1702 the Bank failed. The building, where it was housed, is currently the headquarters of the Children’s Hospital of SS. Annunziata, part hospital company specializing in pediatrics Santobono-Pausilipon.

Banco di Santa Maria del Popolo
The old hospital of the Incurabili stands with the adjacent church of Santa Maria del Popolo degli Incurabili at Caponapoli. In 1589 Banco di Santa Maria del Popolo was founded within the hospital complex, with the aim of giving economic comfort to the patients and their families. In 1597 the Bank moved into a new building located opposite the church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, in the namesake square. Currently the building is transformed into a residence.

Banco dello Spirito Santo
In 1562 two conservatives born for the protection of girls, one for those of good morals, another for the girls who were daughters of prostitutes. The headquarter was in via Toledo, in a huge building next to the Spirito Santo Church overlooking the little square of the same name. The Banco dello Spirito Santo was founded by the promoters of the conservatives of the girls in 1590, in order to finance themselves. The ancient site was owned by the Banco di Napoli until the nineties of the twentieth century. Now it houses a branch of the Bank. The rest of the building is occupied by the Faculty of Architecture of the University Federico II and other university offices.

Banco di Sant’Eligio
It was the bank of Piazza Mercato merchants. It was founded by the nobles confreres of the convent of Sant ‘Eligio in 1592. The confreres were financing the charitable activities with revenue from bank that took place within the complex: the hospital, the Conservatory for poor virgins who were prepared to perform as a nurse at the same hospital, the church.

Banco di San Giacomo e Vittoria
In 1540 the church of San Giacomo degli Spagnoli attached to an existing hospital was built. Both the hospital and the church were to heal the body and soul of the many Spanish residents, Naples being the capital of the Spanish viceroy. In 1597 some Iberian nobles founded the Banco di San Giacomo e Vittoria, located in the building that housed the hospital and the church, to meet the financial needs of Iberian population. The hospital was later demolished in 1817 to build the imposing Palace of the Ministries. The Bank acquired the property of the side facing Toledo street of the palace. The front facade, which overlooks the Municipio square, houses the City Hall of Naples.

Palazzo Petrucci - IlSistemone 2011 CC BY-SA 3.0
Palazzo Petrucci – IlSistemone 2011 CC BY-SA 3.0

Banco del SS. Salvatore
In 1640 the Banco del SS. Salvatore born to the initiative of the collectors of flour tax. In the early years the Bank carried out his activities with the issuance of certificates of credit in favor of wheat and flour traders. After it extended its activities becoming a real commercial bank, with all the operations that were typical for the banks at that time. Its first location was in the church of Santa Maria di Monteverginella, then in a building across from Church of Santi Filippo e Giacomo. In 1697 it found its permanent location at Palazzo Petrucci in Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, on the left, facing the church. Today the building is transformed into a residence.

The Bourbon time

During the period in which reigned Charles III and the period before the French Revolution of Ferdinand IV an economic development was in the kingdom of Naples, with the birth of several cutting-edge factories for its time: silk factories, shipyards, porcelain factories. The various Neapolitan banks prospered financially on this happy economic situation accompanying public and private initiatives. There was a sudden change of policy by the Queen Maria Carolina with the French revolution to counter Jacobin ideas in the kingdom. The management and the profitability of the banks had serious repercussions. In 1794 Ferdinand IV issued a decree aimed at the merger of the banks present in Naples in one subject who was named Banco Nazionale di Napoli.

Fede di Credito del Principe Raimondo di Sangro
Fede di Credito del Principe Raimondo di Sangro

The “Fede di Credito” (Credit Policy), an exclusive lending facility of the Banco di Napoli, was present among the operations inherited from the old institutions. It is still active today. It gives a credit in favor of a third person, specifying the conditions that must be verified by the bank before you make the payment. Up to a few years ago, the “Fede di Credito” was used in the real estate sales where the seller, before cashing the consideration for the sale, was to document the transcript occurred on the land registers of the notarial deed, as well as in maritime commercial transactions, in which the payment was possible when the goods was stored in port silos at the buyer’s name and the delivery of its documentation.

The Banco Nazionale di napoli was reformed with the arrival of the French King Joseph Bonaparte first and Joachim Murat later. In 1806 it was divided into two parts. The Banco di San Giacomo e Victoria, with headquarters in the ministry building (palazzo San Giacomo), had the function of the Bank of the Court, public treasury to the service of the kingdom and of the various ministries. Still in the sixties of the twentieth century Municipal treasury was present at San Giacomo Palace, in the side housing the City Hall, rightful heir of the Bank of the Court. The remaining six banks were grouped under the name of Banco dei Privati performing the functions of a normal bank, headquartered in the palace of the Monte della Pietà, Via San Biagio dei Librai.

Cappella del Monte di Pietà - IlSistemone 2013 CC BY-SA 3.0
Cappella del Monte di Pietà – IlSistemone 2013 CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1809 Joachim Murat wanted to reunite the two banks under the name of Banco delle due Sicilie, keeping the business into two separate sections: the public service at San giacomo Palace, the private service at the building of the Monte della Pietà. Between 1808 and 1809 there was the actual extinction, with the merger in the new entity, the old banks, which until then had formally maintained their ancient legal form.

With the restoration of 1815 Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies kept intact the new structure of the Bank commissioned by Joachim Murat with the restoration of 1815. a new department was also set up, called “Cassa di Sconto”, which dealt in the discount of bills of private clients. In 1820 the minister Luigi de’ Medici, belonging to the Neapolitan branch of the Medici of Florence, ordered the opening of a second public treasury at the headquarters of the Banco di Santo Spirito. Also this treasury was active until a few years ago.

After the riots of 1848 branches of Palermo and Messina became detached from the Banco delle due Sicilie, taking the name Banco Regio dei Reali Domini al di là del Faro, which after the Italy unification became Banco di Sicilia.

The unity of Italy

Banco delle due Sicilie changed its name to Banco di Napoli with the unification of Italy. In 1863 a royal decree gave the right to issue paper money to the bank and five other banks: Banca Nazionale del Regno d’Italia (formed by the merger between the Banca di Genova and the Banca di Torino), Banca Nazionale di Toscana, Banca Toscana per le Industrie e il Commercio d’Italia, Banco di Sicilia, after 1870 was added to the Banca Romana. Only the Banco di Napoli and Banco di Sicilia were public institutions, the others were private institutions.

The Banca d’Italia was created following the scandal of the Banca Romana. It was born from the fusion of the first three above-mentioned banks, so the banks of issue, after the failure of the Banca Romana, were three: Banca di Italia, Banco di Napoli and Banco di Sicilia.

In 1926 the power to issue paper money was reserved solely for the Banca of Italia. At the time Banco di Napoli, public credit institute, held gold amounting to about one billion of liras of the time in its safes. It was a vary big sum, beyond the reserves of all other former issuing banks combined.

Meanwhile, the Banco di Napoli had a government license to collect exclusively migrant remittances money from the United States. Until that time the emigrants had to submit to exorbitant commissions to send money in Italy, which were mowing their savings. In 1909 the Bank opened a branch in New York, with agents in all locations where Italian were.

The Bank also had the authorization to operate the agricultural credit, as well as mortgage credit. It founded the appropriate Special Sections which were exercised these specialized loans. The sections were operating in accordance with national laws regulating this type of credit, granted with state advantage for mandatory consortia of warranty.

In the 30s of 1900 the part of San Giacomo Palace that overlooked the side of Via Toledo, occupied by the Banco di Napoli, was demolished and rebuilt under the direction of architect Marcello Piacentini in typical neoclassical style of public buildings of the time. The Art Nouveau gallery, crossing the building to connect Municipio Square with Toledo Street, was destroyed in this renovation. The renovated building, plus a part of the ancient San Giacomo Palace, is still the headquarters of the Head Office and the Naples branch of the Bank.

In 1938 the ISVEIMER born, which, closely linked with Banco, was the financial vector through which the state operated the industrial development of the southen Italy. After the war the Bank, the Isveimer and the Cassa del Mezzogiorno were the levers for economic and industrial development of southern Italy.

In 1983 the leader of Banco di Napoli was prof. Ferdinando Ventriglia, formerly manager of the Bank, then Director General of the State Treasury and Managing Director of the Banco di Roma. With prof. Ventriglia the Bank went through a period of great development, however, some economic difficulties, even following the adoption of the Basel ratios, were influential. The losses of the typical credit intermediation were often made up for the profits from treasury operations. Of course the use of these legitimate administrative tools could not solve the questions of the Basel ratios too long. In 1994 prof. Ventriglia died. In 1994 The budget of the Bank showed a heavy loss. This caused the intervention of the Banca di Italia. Commissioners were in the Banco di Napoli.

The events since 1990

In 1991, Banco di Napoli was divided into two entities: the banking company called Banco di Napoli SpA, by Public Law Institute was transformed into a joint stock company, and the Fondazione Banco di Napoli which had the aim of curing the institutional cultural and charitable activity which was previously of the Institute.

The commissioner of the Bank of Italy had resulted in the creation of a bad bank, called SGA, which were conveyed problem loans and doubtful. This operation was necessary to bring the bank within the parameters of the Basel coefficients. The majority of shares of Banco di Napoli S.p.A. was acquired in 1997 by the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro and Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni. In 2000, the holding company Banco di Napoli, which owns the Banco di Napoli S.p.A., was purchased by Sanpaolo IMI S.p.A. (heir of Istituto Bancario San Paolo di Torino). On 31 December 2002 was made the merger of the Banco di Napoli in Sanpaolo IMI.

In 2007 a further merger was made between Sanpaolo IMI and Banca Intesa with the formation of the largest Italian banking group. In September of the same year the former Banco di Napoli network, limited to the regions of Campania, Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria, was spun off from Banca Intesa Sanpaolo constituting new Banco di Napoli S.p.A., part of the aforementioned banking group.

Fondazione Banco di Napoli is located in the old building of the Banco dei Poveri in Via Tribunali. The Foundation acquired the historical archives of the Banco di Napoli. The numerous works of art that had been accumulated during the almost five centuries of activity of the Banco di Napoli are currently under the supervision of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage. They are showed in the Royal Palace, in Villa Pignatelli, and in the chapel of the Banco della Pietà in via San Biagio dei Librai.

The branches in Italy and abroad

1844 – Opening of the Palermo branch
1846 – Opening of the Messina branch
In 1848 these two branches stood out from the bank to found the Banco Regio dei Reali Domini al di là del Faro, after the unification of Italy was called Banco di Sicilia. Banco di Sicilia became the Issue Bank by Royal Decree of 1863 maintaining this power until 1926, when the issuance of banknotes in liras was concentrated in the Banca di Italia.

1858 – Opening of the Bari branch
The branch of Bari, as well as being the oldest continental branch, has always been the most important after that of Naples. Its original location, in a nineteenth century building in via Abate Jimma, was replaced by a modern building that has taken the place of the ancient and monumental building.

1870 – The following branches were working:
branch of Florence in Via Cavour, branches in Rome, Milan, Foggia, Chieti, Lecce, Reggio Calabria, Catanzaro, Salerno and Avellino. In subsequent years the network of branches was completed in Italy.

1909 – Opening of the New York branch
By a decree of 1906, the Bank had the exclusive concession of Italian migrant remittances money in the United States. To perform this service, which until then had been done by other banks in the face of high fees, the Bank opened the New York branch on Spring Street. In the years following other branches were located in the city with agency who collected the remittances throughout the US territory. The branch was closed in 2001.

1913 – Opening of Tripoli branch
The conquest of Libya and the transfer in that land of many Italians gave rise to the need to open a branch of the Bank in Tripoli. The credit operation were made both in favor of Libyan companies, which were excellent customers, that in favor of Italian companies. The branch was present until the advent of the dictator Gaddafi. In the late 60s Gaddafi as well as chased away all Italians in Libya, also nationalized all foreign banks.

1930 – Opening of Buenos Aires branch
Buenos Aires branch was opened to meet the needs of the many Italian immigrants in Argentina and Italian companies operating in the country. The bank had a significant development even among non-immigrant residents and local businesses. After the last war it was the only Italian bank in Argentina. It was decided the closure of the branch in 1990 only as a result of the crisis of the Bank in Italy.

1937 – Opening of Mogadishu branch
Banco di Napoli decided to be present in the Italian Somalia. He bought the local branch of the Cassa di Risparmio di Torino succeeding in debts and receivables of that bank. The development of the branch followed the fluctuating development of the Italian presence in Somalia. In 1949 a mandate to the UN administration was entrusted to Italy, with the task of promoting the social and economic development of that nation. The mandate was due to expire in 1960. The branch was closed in 1969 due to the precarious situation of that state politics.

In recent years, the foreign network of the bank was completed with the presence of branches and representative offices in major European capitals.

(Top photo: Palazzo San Giacomo lato piazza Municipio – Baku 2009 – CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bibliography:
www.fondazionebanconapoli.it/archivio/banchi-pubblici/
www.senioresbn.it/images/stories/pdf/
www.cncbn.it/la-storia-del-banco-di-napoli/
it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banco_di_Napoli
Pace Aldo: Il Banco di Napoli, cinque secoli di storia, Ist. Banco di Napoli – Fondazione 2012