1950: Banco Francés e Italiano para la América del Sur CA (Caracas), a Banque Française & Italienne pour l'Amérique du Sud (Sudameris) subsidiary, opened in Caracas (later renamed Banco Latino).
1976: Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) representative office opened in Caracas.
The discovery of oil in the Venezuelan subsoil dates back to the early decades of the twentieth century, yet it was only after World War II that the nation began to massively exploit this resource. Large deposits of iron were also discovered at the time, giving impetus to the nation's mining industry.
The country began to modernize in the middle of the century, launching a robust public works policy and a process of industrialization that necessitated an influx not only of technicians but also of workers, craftsmen and traders, thus spurring further immigration from North America as well as Europe. Venezuela's Italian émigré community, which until then had never been very large, soon numbered more than 200,000 individuals.
Against this backdrop, Italian companies including Fiat, Petrolchimica and Fibrocementi secured major contracts, helping Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) to extend its presence in Venezuela through Sudameris, in which it held a stake. In 1950 Sudameris opened its own subsidiary, Banco Francés e Italiano para la América del Sur CA, in Caracas; following the government's nationalization of banks in 1975, the bank's name was changed to Banco Latino.
In 1956, the Venezuelan government commissioned Innocenti, a major Italian machinery company, to build a steel factory on the Orinoco river. IMI was tasked with the trusteeship of the payments sent by Venezuela to Innocenti through IMI's Washington, D.C. branch. Alongside BCI and Sudameris, IMI also issued a joint to guarantee the transaction.
BCI strengthened its presence in the country in 1976, setting up a representative office in Caracas that was later handed over to the Intesa Group. Although in 1978 Banco Ambrosiano also obtained authorization to set up a representative office in Caracas, it seems never to have opened one.
ASI-IMI, Innocenti Venezuela
ASI-BCI, Sudameris, VCA
ASI-BA, VCA, February 15, 1978; vol. 28, p. 133