1903: Earliest Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) business initiatives launched.
1942: Banco di Napoli (BN) branches opened in Kotor and Cetinje.
1943: BN Kotor and Cetinje branches closed.
At the beginning of the twentieth century Italy practiced a sort of "plantation imperialism" in Montenegro, acquiring the state tobacco monopoly. The "Regia cointeressata dei tabacchi del Montenegro" was created in 1903; Joseph Toeplitz, the managing director of Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI), which had provided part of the capital to create the Regia, acted as one of its board members on the bank's behalf.
Given the success of the Regia, the Venetian financier and businessman Giuseppe Volpi, who had been behind its creation, now began to negotiate with the Montenegrins to obtain licenses to develop a free port and railway in Bar to reach Lake Skadar, where he planned to create a navigation service. In order to carry out these projects, the "Compagnia di Antivari" (Company of Bar) was founded in 1905, financed in part by BCI. It had an office in Cetinje that also handled banking transactions.
Alongside these activities, in 1913 BCI, working through the Società Commerciale d'Oriente, or Eastern Trading Company, also authorized a loan of 6 million Francs to Montenegro (which had become a kingdom in 1910) as part of the international loan that had been decided upon by the Great Powers at the London Conference.
In 1919 Montenegro was incorporated into the new Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but following the dissolution of the latter in 1941 after being invaded by the Germans, Montenegro was made a governorate under the sovereignty of Italy's King Vittorio Emanuele III, whose wife, Queen Elena, was Montenegrin.
Italy's expanding presence in the Balkans during World War II led to the opening of Banco di Napoli branches in Montenegro; indeed, in 1942 the bank was also authorized to open several agencies, including in Kotor (in June) and Cetinje, with field offices in Bar and Podgorica (in December). The "Montenegro adventure" came to an abrupt halt when the Italian occupation of the country ended on 8 September 1943, with all of the bank's branches being shut down.