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Chase (bank)

Chase is the consumer and commercial banking division of JPMorgan Chase. The bank was known as Chase Manhattan Bank until it merged with JPMorgan in 2000. Chase Manhattan Bank was formed by the merger of the Chase National Bank and the Bank of the Manhattan Company in 1955. The bank is headquartered in Chicago.


The Manhattan Company

Chase traces its history back to the founding of The Manhattan Company by Aaron Burr on September 1, 1799 in a house at 40 Wall Street:

In addition to being fierce political and personal rivals, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton competed in business, with Burr's Bank of the Manhattan Company competing against Hamilton's Bank of New York. In 1804 their rivalry erupted into a duel, leading to the death of Alexander Hamilton. The dueling pistols are owned by the successor company of Chase Manhattan. They are currently on display on the executive conference floor of the JP Morgan Chase building at 277 Park Avenue in New York.

Chase National Bank

Chase National Bank was formed in 1877 by John Thompson. It was named for former United States Treasury Secretary and Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, although Chase did not have a connection with the bank.

The Chase National Bank acquired a number of smaller banks through its Chase Securities Corporation throughout the 1920s. Its most significant acquisition though was the Equitable Trust Company of New York in 1930, the largest stockholder of which was John D. Rockefeller Jr. This made it the largest bank in America and indeed the world.

Chase was primarily a wholesale bank, dealing with other prominent financial institutions and major corporate clients such as General Electric (which had, through its RCA affiliate, leased prominent space and become a crucial first tenant of Rockefeller Center, rescuing that major project in 1930). The bank also is closely associated with and has financed the oil industry, having longstanding connections with its board directors to the successor companies of Standard Oil, especially Exxon Mobil.

Merger as Chase Manhattan Bank

In 1955 Chase National Bank and The Manhattan Company merged to create Chase Manhattan Bank. As Chase was a much larger bank, it was first intended that Chase acquire the "Bank of Manhattan", as it was nicknamed, but it transpired that Burr's original charter for the Manhattan Company had not only included the clause allowing it to start a bank with surplus funds, but another requiring unanimous consent of shareholders for the bank to be taken over. The deal was therefore structured as an acquisition by the Bank of the Manhattan Company of Chase National, with John J. McCloy becoming chairman of the merged entity. This avoided the requirement of unanimous consent by shareholders.

Under McCloy's successor, George Champion, the antiquated 1799 state charter was relinquished for a modern one. In 1969, under the leadership of David Rockefeller, the bank became part of a bank holding company, the Chase Manhattan Corporation.

Merger with Chemical, J.P. Morgan

In July 1996 The Chase Manhattan Bank was purchased by Chemical Bank of New York, which had recently acquired Manufacturers Hanover Corporation. The name Chase Manhattan Corporation was retained, as the name was better known globally, although the state charter remained that of Chemical Bank.

In December 2000, the combined Chase Manhattan, completed the acquisition of J.P. Morgan & Co., one of the largest banking mergers to date. The combined company was renamed JPMorgan Chase & Co. In 2004 the bank also acquired Bank One, making Chase the largest credit card issuer in the US and JPMorgan Chase also acquired Bear Stearns & Co. in 2008. Following the government seizure of the failed bank Washington Mutual, WaMu, on Thursday, September 25th 2008, JPMorgan Chase & Co. purchased a majority of the bank's assets for $1.9 billion.

After closing around 400 branches of the combined company (less than 10% of the branches), Chase will have around 5,400 branches in 23 states.

Acquisition History

The following is an illustration of the company's major mergers and acquisitions and historical predecessors (this is not a comprehensive list):

Chase Manhattan Bank

(merged 1955)



Zapatista memo

On January 13, 1995 the Chase Manhattan Bank sent a memo calling on the Mexican government to crush the indigenous Zapatista uprising, stating "While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy.

Chase Bank spokesman John Anderson responded on March 13, saying that the statements "in no way represent the views of the Chase Manhattan Corp.," despite being written on bank stationery and being distributed in a research document representing the bank. The memo was distributed just two days before Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo ordered a military crackdown on the Zapatista rebels.

The memo was authored by Riordan Roett who claimed it was "essential, from the investor point-of-view, to resolve the Chiapas issue as quickly as possible.


Further reading

  • The Chase: The Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A., 1945-1985, John Donald Wilson, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1986.
  • Memoirs. David Rockefeller, New York: Random House, 2002.
  • The Chairman: John J. McCloy - The Making of the American Establishment, Kai Bird, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
  • Water for Gotham: A History, Gerard T. Koeppel, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.

External links

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