The birth of the Imperial Ottoman Bank was the outcome of
a contract dated 4th February 1863. The contract, concluded
by the shareholders of the Ottoman Bank founded in 1856 with
the British capital, the French partners recently incorporated
and the Ottoman Government, was immediately ratified by the
Sultan Abdulaziz, who expected to improve the economy in a
state of financial crisis after the Crimean War. When it came
into being on 4 February 1863, the Bank had to assume its
responsibilities in the domain of banking.
The re-establishement of the currency and the foundation
of the Ottoman Bank were the principal renovations of Tanzimat
in the financial field. The Bank would provide the Treasury
with the necessary advances, play an intermediary role during
the public debt and act as a bank of issue, principal function
of state banks. The 18th February 1875 marked a turning point
in the life of the Imperial Ottoman Bank. The Convention signed
then which was redrafted by an imperial firman gave the Bank
the ability to control the budget and the expenditures and
incomes of the state, to ensure reform and control the precarious
ottoman financial situation. The Convention also extended
the Bank's right of issue for 20 years and conferred on its
role of Treasurer of the Empire. Thus the character of the
Ottoman Bank as a state bank was fully reaffirmed.
After the Balkan wars period in which the Bank did not cease
to help the Ottoman state through providing it several credits,
the Bank became member of the Council of the Public Debt,
and therefore assumed the tobacco monopoly in a limited company
under the name of Régie Cointéréssée des Tabacs de l'Empire
Around the years 1886, the placing of Turkish loans abroad
became possible when the credit standing of the Empire was
re-established. The reduction of commitments towards the Treasury
around 1890, following the improvement of public finances,
allowed the Ottoman Bank to undertake a double activity of
financing the Turkish economy and promoting other business.
In its merchant banking activities, the Ottoman Bank was mainly
involved with public works and railways so as : the Beirut
Port Company in partnership with Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas
(1988), the railway line Beirut-Damas (1892) later extended
to Homs, Hamah and Aleppo.
The Bank also gave a financial support to other various railway
enterprises including the line Constantinople-Salonica and
Smyrna-Kasaba (1892) and the Baghdad Railway Company (1903).
The Bank played a major role in the creation in 1896 of the
coal mining company Société des Charbonnages d'Héraclée.
The First World War had a negative impact on the activities
of the Bank. As it was operating in conformity with the Ottoman
legislation, the French and British Governments considered
the Bank as an "enemy institution". On the other
hand, it lost its credibility in front of the Ottoman Empire
because of its French and British shareholders. At that time,
French and British directors of the Bank abandoned their position
and the privilege of issuing banknotes was abolished. But
the Bank continued its other activities.
After the Independence War, the relations with the young
Turkish Republic were regulated by a new Convention dated
10th March 1924, and the Bank kept its role as state bank.
The name of the Bank was amended and from then on the Imperial
Ottoman Bank was known as Ottoman Bank.
The position as state bank had only been extended on a temporary
basis as the Turkish Government wished to create its own bank
of issue. Thus in 1931 the Central Bank of the Republic of
Turkey has been created.
With the new Convention of 1933, the Bank became from then
on a commercial bank. The last Convention of 1952 settled
once and for all the framework of the Ottoman Bank's activities
as a private institution.
Continually the Bank opened new branches all around the Empire.
In 1914, on the eve of the war, the eastern network consisted
of no less than 80 branches of which 16 were in European Turkey,
37 in Middle-East and Anatolia (Persia, Irak, Lebanon, Palestine
and Jordania), 11 in Syria, 5 in Egypt, others in Cyprus and
even in Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Rumania. The circumstances
obliged the Bank to close the most part of its branches during
the post-war period. On the other hand, new branches, quickly
established in the Near East in 1920-30, were functioning
according to the instructions of the British shareholders.
In 1956, the unfortunate Suez expedition and the nationalisation
of the Suez Channel brought about the nationalisation of all
the branch network in Egypt. In 1958 the Bank following the
policy of the British shareholders enlarged its action in
some East African countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rhodesia
(now Zimbabwe). In the same area of the globe, the Ottoman
Bank had the foresight to set up in Qatar in 1956, then in
Abu-Dhabi in 1962 and finally in Muscat in 1969.
However, in some of the countries where the Bank was established,
a trend could be seen for the transfer of foreign-owned banking
business to local ownership. It was in this context that in
1969 the Ottoman Bank sold its branches in London, Cyprus,
Sudan, Jordania, East Africa, the Emirates and Rhodesia to
National and Grindlays Bank which later became Grindlays Bank.
The branches in France and Geneva were regrouped in a separate
company called Banque ottomane whose ownership was subsequently
transferred to Grindlays Bank and took the name of Grindlays
Bank- France. In June 1996, the Paribas Group, its main shareholder,
sold its share and through the Garanti Bankasi and the Clover
Investment, the Ottoman Bank was sold to the Dogus Group.
From this date, the commercial banking activity of the Ottoman
Bank was mainly centred on Turkey. On 31st July 2001, the
Ottoman Bank merged with Körfez Bankasi. On 21st December
2001, it was incorporated in its principal shareholder, Garanti
Chronological List of the Imperial Ottoman Bank Branches
(La Banque impériale ottomane, A. Autheman,
Comité pour l´Histoire économique et financière de la France,
Istanbul-Galata, Izmir, Galatz (closed in 1866), Beyrouth
(closed in 1921)
(closed in 1866)
Aydin, Afyon Carahissar (closed in 1880), Manisa, Larnaca
(closed in 1880), Edirne, Bursa, Damascus (closed in 1921)
(closed in 1899)
(closed in 1882)
(closed in 1898)
(closed in 1899), Denizli, Mugla
Balikesir, Usak, Samsun, Trabzon
(reopened and closed in 1899), Mersin, Baghdad, Bassorah
Aleppo (closed in 1921)
(closed in 1921)
(closed in 1914), Skopje (closed in 1914)
(closed in 1914), Kavala, Eskisehir, Aksehir, Tripoli, Syria
(closed in 1921), Jerusalem.
(reopened), Bandirma, Bilecik, Jaffa.
(closed in 1914), Erzurum, Giresun, Kutahya, Gaziantep, ilifke
(closed in 1907), Famagusta, Haifa, Tripoli (Lybia) (closed
Homs (closed in 1921)
(closed in 1914), Tekirdag
Drama (closed in 1921), Serres (closed in 1921), Ionnina (closed
in 1921), Kayseri, Inebolu, Ordu, Geyve, Boldavin, Mansureh
Scutari of Albania (closed in 1914), Rhodes (closed in 1921),
Diyarbekir, Elazig, Bitlis, Van, Ceyhan, Saida (closed in
1921), Hodeida (closed in 1921), Benghazi (closed in 1912).
Urfa, Sandikli, Soke, Djeddah (closed in 1916)
(closed in 1921)
Zahleh (closed in 1921)
(closed in 1921)
Ashar, Tunis, Kermanshah
Ramallah, Nabulus, Hamadan, Tehran
Autheman, André; La Banque impériale ottomane, Paris: Comité
pour l'Histoire économique et financière de la France, 1996.
de la Banque ottomane, Istanbul, 1988.
Adrien, La Banque impériale ottomane, Paris, 1909.
"The Imperial Ottoman Bank in the Later Nineteenth Century:
A Multinational "National" Bank", in G. Jones
(derl.), Banks as Multinationals, Londra, 1990.
A 135-Year-Old Treasure. Glimpses from the Past in the Ottoman
Bank Archives, Istanbul, 1997.
Intérêts et impérialisme français dans l'Empire ottoman (1895-1914),
Publication de la Sorbonne, Paris,1997.