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Barings Bank

In 1763, the Baring family had a thriving textiles manufacturing and trading business in London. However, Francis Baring was not content with this business and began steering the company toward the world of finance. By 1776, Barings had become what we now call a merchant bank. Indeed, it is considered the first merchant bank. A merchant bank conducts the usual banking activities of taking deposits, giving loans, and advising clients. However, a merchant bank also risks its own capital in various (hopefully) profitable ventures. In those days, that meant sponsoring international trade voyages or buying and selling commodities like copper from the Congo and wool from Australia. Francis Baring became so successful that he was also elected to the British parliament and was made a baronet in 1793. Sir Francis and his Barings Bank became advisors to nations.

Barings was deeply involved in the finance and trade of the British Empire. This included financing the trading of commodities all over the world. It also became the bank of the English royal family. After Sir Francis, many more of the Barings clan received hereditary British peerages. In 1803, Barings helped negotiate and finance the repurchase of the Louisiana territory by the American government from Napoleon.


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