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International Business outside North America

Royal Bank’s evolving presence in different locations around the world sheds light on the company’s evolving growth strategy over the years, a strategy that reflects a responsiveness to the changing economic and political climates of the times.

1882Royal Bank opened its first international agency (branch) in Hamilton, Bermuda. The branch was sold to The Bank of Bermuda in 1889.
1899A branch was established in Havana, Cuba, setting the pattern for the steady expansion of Royal Bank throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. By 1925, the company had 121 branches in these areas.
An agency was opened in New York to serve as a financial intermediary in Royal Bank’s expansion into Cuba and the Cuban-American sugar trade. The agency also provided access to a workable money market and the opportunity to invest our liquid reserves profitably.
1907Dominion Securities opened its London office with Edward R. Peacock assuming managerial responsibility. Peacock later provided financial services to the British Royal Family resulting in his being knighted by King George V in 1934.
Royal Bank opened its first branch in Puerto Rico (San Juan) to participate in the financing of the sugar trade between the United States and Puerto Rico.
1908Nassau branch opened in November and with the purchase of The Bank of Nassau, in 1917, Royal Bank’s business expanded considerably. Royal Bank was the only bank operating in the Bahamas until 1947.
1910Royal Bank’s branch in London, England, represented the bank’s first branch outside of North America and the Caribbean when it opened in 1910. The branch’s initial operations were confined to acting as London correspondent but quickly built up its own substantial business. Branches in London, England, Barcelona, Spain (1918) and Paris, France (1919), also served to secure the other end of trade financing and foreign exchange with the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Royal Bank acquired the Union Bank of Halifax (UBH), which brought scale to the bank’s business in Puerto Rico (San Juan, 1906 and Ponce, 1907) and gave us our first branch in Trinidad (Port of Spain, 1902). Established in 1856, the Union Bank was the first Canadian bank to operate in Puerto Rico after the 1898 American occupation.
1911-1917Royal Bank’s Caribbean network was generally complete before the end of the First World War. Branches were opened in Jamaica and Barbados (1911), the Dominican Republic (1912), Grenada (1913), Antigua, Dominica and St. Kitts (1915), and Nevis, Montserrat and Tobago (1917).
Royal Bank’s first branches in Central and South America were also opened during this period – British Honduras, now Belize (1912), British Guiana, now Guyana (1913), Costa Rica (1915) and Venezuela (1916).
1919-1920Royal Bank opened a branch in Vladivostok, Russia, to serve the banking needs of resident Canadian merchants and the Canadian Expeditionary Force and British troops stationed there. Business never reached its anticipated potential and when Canadian and British troops withdrew from Siberia, the branch was forced to close in October 1919.
Further expansion in the Caribbean and South America, in 1919, saw branches opened in Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay and one year later in St. Lucia and Colombia.
1925Royal Bank purchased the Bank of Central and South America acquiring the business of its subsidiaries which strengthened the Royal Bank’s branch network in Colombia, Costa Rica and Venezuela and introduced Royal Bank to Peru with four branches.
1929Two branches were opened in Panama but closed a decade later because of changes to Panamanian banking law.
Royal Trust opened its office in London, England.
1929-1933Royal Bank’s international branch network contracted by slightly more than 25% between the years 1929-1933 due to unfavourable global economic conditions.
1940Outside of Canada, Royal Bank had 65 operating units in 15 countries.
1954Royal Bank and the Bank of China entered into a correspondent banking relationship, the first such arrangement between the People’s Republic of China and a North American bank. The bank remained purely a correspondent banker until 1981 when it opened a representative office in Beijing – the first Canadian bank to do so.
1956Royal Bank unofficially returned to Russia at a time when westerners seldom travelled to Eastern Europe. Although touted as a personal trip to chat with the Soviet finance minister and the head of the country’s central bank, Royal Bank’s chairman James Muir spoke candidly about the potential of this rapidly expanding country. Muir’s visit predated any similar visit by a Canadian minister of external affairs and his comments helped turn Canadian opinion on the Soviet Union, contributing to the rapprochement between East and West.
1958James Muir’s trip to China set another precedent. To help finance trade, Royal Bank opened a representative office in Hong Kong – the first Canadian bank to be represented in Asia. This office was upgraded to branch status in 1978 but was closed in 1999 due to a restructuring of the bank’s operations in certain Asian markets.
1959Royal Bank opened a branch at Kingstown, St. Vincent and remained opened until 1985.
1960Royal Bank’s international branch network grew from 61 branches in 1951 to 101 by early 1960, thanks mainly to the bank’s modest expansion in Cuba and South America.
In December, Royal Bank’s Cuban assets were sold to Banco Nacional de Cuba reducing our non-Canadian branches to 77.
1964Royal Bank also opened its George Town, Cayman Islands branch.
1965Branches in Guadeloupe and Martinique were re-opened after being closed in 1940 with the fall of France in the Second World War. Both branches remained opened until 1979 and 1980 respectively.
1966Royal Bank acquired a modest share interest in Banque des Activites Economiques in Beirut, Lebanon. One year later, a resident representative was appointed and branch status was obtained in 1970. The branch was closed in 1988.
1969Royal Bank opened a representative office in Frankfurt, West Germany. The office closed in 1983.
1970Outside of Canada, Royal Bank had 125 operating units in over 30 countries.
Orion Bank Ltd., headquartered in London, England, was formed offering a triad of services: merchant banking for international underwriting and consortium loans, a termbank to provide medium-term Euroloans, and a management services group.
A representative office was opened in Tokyo, Japan. This office was upgraded to branch status in 1981.
Royal Bank first established a presence in Australia through a wholly owned subsidiary, RoyAust Limited (later RBC Australia Limited), a merchant bank and money market dealer. In March 1986, this company was absorbed by National Mutual Royal Bank Limited.
1972The Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago was incorporated, acquiring all of Royal Bank’s assets in and liabilities in Trinidad and Tobago. Royal Bank sold its holdings to local interests in 1987.
1974Equator Bank Limited was formed as a joint merchant banking venture representing the first direct participation of its kind in independent Africa by a Canadian banking institution. The venture enabled African nations to expand their economies by having access to off-shore sources of funds.
Royal Bank acquired 30% equity in a local Philippines’ bank which was renamed Traders Royal Bank, Manila. These interests were sold in 1976.
Royal Bank opened a representative office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In 1977, this office obtained branch status.
1975A representative office was opened in Sydney, Australia. The office was closed in 1985 with the establishment of National Mutual Royal Bank in Australia.
Royal Bank opened a branch in Singapore which included an Asian Currency Unit. The branch provided services for non-residents who wished to deal in the Asiadollar market.
1978Royal Bank opened a representative office in Seoul, Korea, which was upgraded to branch status in 1982.
1979Royal Bank opened representative offices in Mexico City, Mexico and Cairo, Egypt. The Egyptian office was closed a decade later.
Royal Bank purchased the Plymouth, England based Western Savings & Trust Ltd., providing Royal Bank with its first British retail banking operation. Western Trust and Savings Bank was subsequently sold in 1987.
1980Outside of Canada, Royal Bank had more than 200 operating units in 45 countries.
Royal Bank acquired Banco de San Juan, Puerto Rico renaming it The Royal Bank of Puerto Rico in 1985. Founded in 1928, Banco de San Juan ranked 10th largest of Puerto Rico’s 16 commercial banks.
1981Royal Bank opened a branch in Bangkok, Thailand (closed 1986) and representative offices in Madrid, Spain (upgraded to branch status in 1987) and Beijing, China. The Beijing opening marked the first time any Canadian bank was represented in the People’s Republic of China. The Beijing office was upgraded to branch status in 2006.
1983Royal Bank opened a branch in Taipei, Taiwan. The branch closed in 1999 due to a restructuring of the bank’s operations in certain Asian markets.
1984Royal Bank sold its operations in Guyana to the government of Guyana.
1985Royal Bank sold its banking business in the Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and Jamaica.
Royal Bank opened a representative office in Milan, Italy. The office closed in 1992.
1986Royal Bank opened a representative office in New Delhi, India. The office closed in 1988.
Royal Bank sold its operations in Haiti to Societe Generale Haitienne de Banque S.A. (SOGEBANK), a local banking company.
1987Royal Bank’s operations in Belize were sold to the Belize Bank of Commerce and Industry Limited.
Royal Bank’s Panama branch was closed as part of the rationalization of the bank’s Latin American & Caribbean operations.
1988Royal Bank was the first Canadian bank to open a representative office in Shanghai, China. The office was elevated to branch status in 1993. The branch was closed in 1999 as part of a restructuring of the bank’s operations in certain Asian markets.
Royal Bank re-opened a representative office in Sydney, Australia. The office was elevated to branch status in 1997.
1990Outside of Canada, Royal Bank operated more than 125 business units in 32 countries.
1993Royal Bank sold its subsidiary, Royal Bank de Puerto Rico, to Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, Puerto Rico. Royal Bank maintained a full service branch in Hato Rey.
Royal Bank of Canada (Brasil) was sold to Banco Portuguese do Atlantico S.A. Royal Bank maintained a representative office in Sao Paulo.
Newly acquired Royal Trust and Royal Bank of Canada restructured and merged operations in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei.
1994Royal Trust opened an office in Bermuda – the only Canadian financial institution to have a presence there.
1995Royal Bank opened its first representative office in Chile (Santiago). The office closed in 2002.
1996Royal Bank and RBC Dominion Securities integrated several key trading functions under the banner of RBC DS Global Markets. This combined trading unit operated out of 20 locations including London, New York, Singapore, Montreal, and a new state-of-the-art Toronto trading room.
1997Royal Bank opened a representative office in Bogota, Colombia in October. The office closed in 1999.
Royal Bank was the only international bank remaining to serve residents of volcano-devastated Montserrat.
1998RBC Dominion Securities Inc. (RBC DS) opened in Nassau, Bahamas, Bridgetown, Barbados and Providenciales (Turks & Caicos Islands). RBC DS had been in Cayman for 10 years, formerly as Richardson Greenshields. In Barbados, they were the only full service investment dealer on the island.
RBC Dominion Securities Inc. acquired the bond business of Hambros Bank Limited from Société Générale.
Royal Trust opened global private banking offices in Chile and Colombia.
Royal Bank announced an agreement to acquire the offshore European corporate and institutional trust and fiduciary business from Coutts Group, the international private banking arm of NatWest Group.
1999As part of a general restructuring of operations, Royal Bank closed offices in Asia and Latin America. These included offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.
Royal Bank sold the assets and liabilities of its Puerto Rico branch to FirstBank Puerto Rico.
Royal Bank of Canada acquired the private client trust and fiduciary services businesses of Ernst & Young in Guernsey, Channel Islands. The transaction involved the purchase of two companies: The Monument Trust Company Limited and Bridgewater Administration Limited.
2000Royal Bank added North American expansion as a key strategic priority. Our international network included 300 offices in more than 30 countries.
Royal Bank became one of the largest international trust companies in the Channel Islands, following the bank’s January acquisition of Ernst & Young Trust Company (Jersey) Limited.
2001Royal Bank acquired Perpetual Fund Services (PFS), the custody, investment administration and unit registry business of Australian publicly listed company Perpetual Trustees Australia Limited. It operates under the legal entity RBC Global Services Australia Pty. Limited and is known in Australia as RBC Global Services.
RBC Global Private Banking opened a branch in Brunei Darussalam.
2004RBC Global Private Banking opened offices in Madrid, Spain, and Istanbul, Turkey.
2005RBC Securities Australia Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of RBC Capital Markets, became a participant of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) making Royal Bank of Canada the only Canadian bank member.
Royal Bank acquired Abacus Financial Services Group Limited, significantly strengthening the bank’s Global Private Banking operations in the strategically important British Isles marketplace and providing a greater presence in Europe.
RBC Global Private Banking expanded in the Americas by opening representative offices in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and San Francisco, and by establishing an International Client Group consisting of 25 international private banking and investment specialists in Vancouver, British Columbia.
2006RBC Life Insurance Company opened a representative office in Beijing, China.
Royal Bank and Dexia combined their institutional investor services businesses in an equally owned joint venture named RBC Dexia Investor Services (RBC Dexia IS).
2008Royal Bank acquired RBTT Financial Group and our combined retail banking operations created one of the most expansive banking networks in the Caribbean, with a presence in 18 countries and territories across the region.
RBC Wealth Management opened a new office with RBC Capital Markets in Mumbai, India, and an office in Santiago, Chile.
2009Royal Bank acquired Mourant Private Wealth, the multi-award winning international private client trust business, with operations in Jersey, Dubai and Cayman, making RBC Wealth Management one of the largest financial services employers in the jurisdiction.
Royal Bank established its Caribbean headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, to serve as the centre of the bank’s Caribbean banking network.
2010RBC Dexia IS acquired Unione di Banche Italiane S.c.p.a’s depository bank business, making RBC Dexia IS the second largest third-party fund administration company and the fifth largest depository bank in the Italian market.
Royal Bank acquired London-based BlueBay Asset Management bringing over 200 employees and approximately US$40 billion in assets under management to the RBC Global Asset Management business.
2012Royal Bank acquired the Latin American, Caribbean and African private banking business of Coutts, the wealth division of Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
Royal Bank acquired the remaining 50% stake in the RBC Dexia joint venture. As a result of this transaction, Royal Bank became sole owner of 100% of RBC Dexia which was rebranded RBC Investor Services, and joined the RBC Investor & Treasury Services (I&TS) business segment. The following Investor Services country offices formally became part of RBC I&TS segment: Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Dubai, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.