Country profile

Egypt

date 1924-present
banks Banca Commerciale Italiana per l'Egitto (Comitegit)
Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI)
Bank of Alexandria
description

TIMELINE
1924: Banca Commerciale Italiana per l'Egitto (Comitegit) - a Banca Commerciale Italiana subsidiary - founded, with offices opened in Alexandria and in Cairo.
1961: Comitegit closed and decision taken by Banca Commerciale Italiana's Board of Directors to open a representative office in Cairo.
1977: Banca Commerciale Italiana branch opened in Cairo.
2006: 80% stake in Bank of Alexandria (founded by the Egyptian government in 1957 and privatized in 2006) aquired by Sanpaolo IMI Group.

After Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) made an unsuccessful attempt to reach an agreement with Banco di Roma, which already had a presence in Egypt, to buy half of the shares of its affiliate, Banco di Roma per l'Egitto ed il Levante, it founded Banca Commerciale per l'Egitto (Comitegit) in 1924, opening headquarters in Alexandria and Cairo.
As Comitegit's principal objective was to strengthen economic relations between Egypt and Italy, it focused on providing loans for the production and exportation of cotton, then the most important industry in the Egyptian economy. Starting in 1925, as business continued to expand, Comitegit began to open branches in various locations throughout the country.
In 1930 and the years thereafter, the bank was forced to deal with the impact on the Egyptian economy of the worldwide economic and financial crisis. To make matters worse, in 1935-36 the League of Nations voted to impose economic sanctions against Italy following its invasion of Ethiopia (Egypt had close ties with Great Britain, which was an ally of Ethiopia). However, the bank's losses were limited thanks to its ordinary loans and currency exchange reserves. Later Comitegit reappraised its presence in Egypt, reducing the number of branches there, but opening another in 1937 in Port Said, a port on the Suez Canal of major strategic importance for trade between the regions of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
With Italy's 1940 entry into World War II, Egypt seized Comitegit's offices and assets. After the seizure came to an end, the bank decided in August 1948 to keep Comitegit's Cairo office open but to close the one located in Alexandria.
In 1961, following an agreement with the Egyptian government, which had begun to nationalize its banking sector in 1957, Comitegit transferred its assets and liabilities to the National Egypt Bank.
After Comitegit's liquidation, Banca Commerciale Italiana opened a representative office in Cairo, and later - in 1977 - a branch as well. The branch office was liquidated in July 1994, following new regulations by the Egyptian government that introduced an increase in the capital requirement for foreign banks.
In 2006 the Sanpaolo IMI Group acquired an 80% stake in Bank of Alexandria, which had been founded by the Egyptian government in 1957 and privatized in 2006. After Sanpaolo IMI Group's merger with the Intesa Group, Bank of Alexandria became an international subsidiary of Intesa Sanpaolo.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cuccia describes the mechanism used to finance cotton farming in his report on the Italian subsidiaries in Egypt (Archivio centrale dello Stato, IRI, serie nera, cart. 40, documento "Le banche italiane in Egitto (Comitegit e Italegit)", 29-6-1938). Roberto Di Quirico takes off from this description in Le banche italiane all'estero 1900-1950. Espansione bancaria all'estero e integrazione internazionale dell'Italia negli anni tra le due guerre, European Press Academic Publishing, Firenze, 2000, pp. 101-103

Banca Commerciale Italiana per l'Egitto (Comitegit), Cairo headquarter on 23-25 Sharia el Manakh, 1924-1928 (photographer unknown)
Banca Commerciale Italiana per l'Egitto (Comitegit), Cairo headquarter on 23-25 Sharia el Manakh, 1924-1928 (photographer unknown)
Banca Commerciale Italiana per l'Egitto (Comitegit), Cairo headquarter on 23-25 Sharia el Manakh, 1924-1928 (photographer unknown)
Banca Commerciale Italiana per l'Egitto (Comitegit), Alexandria branch on 3 Via della vecchia Borsa, 1920s (photograph by U. Dorés)
Banca Commerciale Italiana per l'Egitto (Comitegit), Alexandria branch on 3 Via della vecchia Borsa, 1920s (photograph by U. Dorés)
Banca Commerciale Italiana per l'Egitto (Comitegit), Alexandria branch on 3 Via della vecchia Borsa, 1920s (photograph by U. Dorés)
Banca Commerciale Italiana per l'Egitto (Comitegit), Alexandria: façade of the branch on 27 Rue Cherif Pacha, 1928
Banca Commerciale Italiana, Cairo representative office on 2 Wadi El Nil Street, 1994 (photographer unknown)
Banca Commerciale Italiana, Cairo representative office on 2 Wadi El Nil Street, 1994 (photographer unknown)
"Nella terra dei faraoni e nel paese dei cedri", article from the house organ "TempoComit", 1999, n. 28, pp. 32-33
Banca Commerciale Italiana, Cairo branch on 3 Ahmed Nessim Street, 1977 (photographer unknown)
Banca Commerciale Italiana, Cairo branch on 3 Ahmed Nessim Street, 1977 (photographer unknown)
Banca Commerciale Italiana, Cairo branch on 2 Wadi El Nil Street, Mohandissin, 1987 (photographer unknown)
Bank of Alexandria, Cairo Smart Village, after 2007 (photographer unknown)
Bank of Alexandria, Cairo Smart Village, after 2007 (photographer unknown)
Bank of Alexandria, Cairo Smart Village, after 2007 (photographer unknown)