The Basler Kantonalbank from early days to today
Establishment of the Basler Kantonalbank was brought about first and foremost by the situation that it was often difficult, particularly for craftsmen and small traders, to obtain loans on favourable terms necessary for carrying on their businesses. Because the ones who invested their capital with the Cantonal Bank received additional security in the form of a state guaranty, payment of interest was only modest, which in its turn was reflected in favourable credit terms.
The initial location of the new bank was the former inn «Zur Krone» at Schifflände. It soon proved that the Cantonal Bank could fill an important gap in the business life of the Canton.
The Basler Kantonalbank was also able to enjoy a satisfactory course of business in crisis periods during the first and second World Wars. Development of shipping on the Upper Rhine as a new line of business for Basel, establishment of the Swiss Trade Fair exhibition, or construction of the Market Hall gave important impulses not only Basel but also the Cantonal Bank. The dominating position in mortgage business, which the BKB assumed from the time of formation, could also be asserted during these difficult years. The opening of the present head office in Spiegelgasse. was an important event in 1938. Early branches were opened in some districts of Basel even before this.
The business of the Basler Kantonalbank during the post-war years until 1974 was characterised by an overall healthy economic boom. Extremely strong growth could be recorded at times, by reason of prospering economic development. A slow-down in growth followed during the recessionary periods of 1975/1976 and in the 1980’s. The banking world suffered a bitter setback particularly in 1987, as the stock exchange crash led to massive and completely unexpected price falls.
The Basler Kantonalbank was badly affected by the property crisis at the end of the 1980’s owing to its orientation being traditionally focussed towards mortgage business. The need to make wide-ranging adjustments for depreciation arising as a result, could however be fully covered by realising latent reserves. A balanced diversification in earnings was introduced as a consequence, in order to reduce Basler Kantonalbank’s vulnerability as towards the underlying economic situation. Trading and personal banking activities were developed in particular in this connection.
The banking environment in Switzerland has been in a phase of profound radical change since the end of the 1980’s. Apart from isolated closings, numerous mergers and take-overs have mainly led to a continuous reduction in the number of financial institutions. Advancing internationalisation of banking business, combined with increasingly expanding technology, may first and foremost be named as causes for this shift. The Basler Kantonalbank too, took part in this process by acquiring a majority holding in Bank Coop at the end of jubilee year 1999.
You can find further important events in Basler Kantonalbank Milestones.