... to the late 1960s
The earliest known Kleinwort to go into banking was 24-year-old Hinrich Kleinwort who, in 1786, set up a partnership with Otto Mueller in Holstein to finance trade with England. In the very same year, Robert Benson joined with William Rathbone IV of the existing house of William Rathbone & Co. to form Rathbone & Benson, a Liverpool business trading mainly with America.
Over the course of the 19th century, the Benson family grew its wealth through railway finance in Britain, Europe and America. The Kleinworts established a successful trading business in Cuba, profiting from the expansion of the H. Upmann and Sons cigar business.
The Kleinworts and the Bensons merged their firms in 1961 to form Kleinwort Benson. Kleinwort Benson then became one of the first merchant banks to establish itself in the Channel Islands, having set up offices in Jersey in 1962 and Guernsey in 1963. Over the course of the 1960s the City saw a huge increase in the volume of mergers and acquisitions and by the end of the decade, Kleinwort Benson was participating in some of the biggest deals on the London market.
... to the present day
In the 1980s, Kleinwort Benson was a pioneer in privatisation. We were the lead adviser on the flotation of British Telecom which, at the time, was the largest public offering ever seen. We subsequently acted in the privatisation offerings of Enterprise Oil, Associated British Ports, British Gas and the electricity supply industry in England and Wales. In the 1990s and 2000s, Kleinwort Benson’s expertise was in demand around the world. We advised on privatisations in more than 50 countries and acted as bookrunner and global coordinator for some of the largest and most complex global equity offerings and privatisations throughout Europe. We acted as global manager and adviser to the Italian government on the IPO of Enel and advised France Telecom on their IPO of Pages Jaunes.
In 1995, Kleinwort Benson was acquired by Dresdner Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort became the investment banking arm of Dresdner Bank. Dresdner became part of Commerzbank in 2009.
In 2010, Kleinwort Benson once again became an independent company focusing on private banking and wealth management. In 2016 we were acquired by Societe Generale. Today we offer a comprehensive range of services to private clients, families, business owners and entrepreneurs, to charities, foundations and endowments and to corporate clients and institutions, including pension funds.