The origins of the Espírito Santo Group date back to 1869, when José María do Espírito Santo e Silva first established a “Caza de Cambio” in Lisbon. His drive, entrepreneurial spirit, and dynamic approach to business promoted a series of successful acquisitions, consolidations, and expansions that led to the formation of Banco Espírito Santo (BES) in 1920.
From 1920 to 1974, the sons of José María do Espirito Santo e Silva steadily increased BES domestic activities, becoming the uncontested leader of the Portuguese banking system, while looking outside Portugal for suitable business partners. At home, the Bank maintained focus on supporting the economic development of the country’s industry until 1975, when all Portuguese banks and insurance companies were nationalized.
In 1975, unable to continue operations in Portugal, the Group turned to the charismatic leadership of Manuel Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva and rebuilt financial interests abroad, establishing new businesses in Brazil, Switzerland, France and the United States.
In 1991, Espírito Santo Group recovered control of BES through a public auction that sought to reprivatize the Portuguese banking industry. In the years that followed, further units were added to BES, including an investment bank, a broker dealer, and an asset management company. The return to the Group’s home country set the stage for a new phase of expansion within Portugal and in other strategic markets.
Commercial and Private bankinking