1927: Stake in Bank Handlowy w Warszawie acquired by Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI).
1935: Stake in Bank Handlowy w Warszawie transferred.
1975: BCI representative office opened in Warsaw.
1990: Stake in International Bank of Poland (IBP) acquired by BCI.
1997: Istituto Bancario San Paolo (IBSP) representative office opened in Warsaw.
1997: Stake in IBP transferred.
1997: Stake in Bank Rozwoju Exsportu SA (BRE) acquired by BCI
Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) first began investing in Poland following World War I and the foundation of the Second Republic of Poland in 1918. The decision to do so was based on not only BCI's eagerness to expand into other European countries for economic ends, but also the patriotic sentiment of its managing director, Joseph Toeplitz, who was a Pole.
A year after granting a foreign bond loan to Poland in 1924, BCI made another loan of two million dollars to rescue Bank Handlowy, which had been founded in Warsaw in 1870. It acquired a minority stake in the bank in the process, but in 1935 signed an agreement to transfer it to the Polish government.
Only in 1974 would BCI establish a direct presence in Poland's capital city, setting up a representative office that continued to operate even during the delicate historic period of martial law in the early 1980s; it would also remain active after BCI merged with Banca Intesa in 2002.
The economic and political reforms that took place in Poland after the fall of the Berlin Wall; the support it received from international bodies such as the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Economic Community, as well as individual governments, to help develop a market economy; and, finally, its size, geographic position, and abundance of raw materials led to BCI's 1990 decision to open a new representative office in Gdańsk. The office never actually materialized; however, BCI did acquire a stake in International Bank of Poland (IBP), which was later sold and replaced with another in Bank Rozwoju Exsportu SA (BRE), which had close ties with Commerzbank.
In 1997 Istituto Bancario San Paolo - which from 1992 to 1994 had taken part in a World Bank-funded technical assistance project to support Powszechny Bank Kreditowy SA (PBK) - also opened a representative office in Warsaw as part of its plan to expand into Eastern Europe. Indeed, at the time Italy was Poland's second largest trade partner, and there were numerous Italian business concerns in the country.