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The Chase Manhattan Corporation

The Chase Manhattan Corporation

1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
New York, New York 10081-0001
U.S.A.
(212) 552-2222
Fax: (212) 552-5928

Public Company
Incorporated: 1969
Employees: 35,774
Total Assets: $123.9 billion
Stock Exchanges: New York London Paris Düsseldorf
Frankfurt
SICs: 6712 Bank Holding Companies; 6021 National Commercial Banks; 6022 State Commercial Banks; 6211 Security Brokers & Dealers; 6162 Mortgage Bankers & Correspondents

Following its 1995 merger with Chemical Banking Corporation, the Chase Manhattan Corporation rose from sixth to first largest bank in the United States. Shifting the direction of its operations in a restructuring initiated in 1990, Chase no longer aims to be a full-service global bank but focuses instead on three areas: regional retail banking, national consumer products, and global commercial banking. Long one of the most widely recognized names in banking, Chase suffered a market decline in the 1980s and early 1990s, making it a continuing object of takeover speculation, in particular in the frenzy of banking consolidation of the mid-1990s. In August 1995, the speculation ended.

Chase Manhattans earliest predecessor, The Manhattan Company, was formed in 1799, ostensibly to supply New York with clean water to fight a yellow fever epidemic. Its real purpose, however, was to establish a bank. Organized by Aaron Burr to challenge the supremacy of the Bank of New York and the Bank of the United States, the company had a charter in which Burr had surreptitiously inserted a clause authorizing it to engage in other businesses with any leftover capital. To no ones surprise, the company soon discovered that the water-supply operation would not require all of its resources, so the Bank of Manhattan Company was opened in 1799 at 40 Wall Street. The banks first president was Daniel Ludlow.

In 1808, the year Daniel Ludlow resigned, the company was allowed to sell the water operation to the City of New York and devote its energy to banking. From that time onward, the Bank of Manhattan flourished. The bank introduced several innovative banking practices, among them, the method by which it had gained a charter. Its example spawned corruption among other groups who sought incorporation; the construction of canals during the 1820s and 1830s or the building of railroads in the 1850s and 1860s often became the pretext for procuring a bank charter that might not otherwise have been granted.

Since the bank had virtually no restrictions in its charter, it was able to loan money to a wide variety of patrons, including tradespeople, land speculators, and manufacturers as well as the New York state government. This open banking policy provided a great impetus for westward expansion in the United States during the mid- and late 19th century. By the turn of the century the Bank of Manhattan had established itself as one of the largest holders of individual depositor accounts. Its policy of providing personal banking services worked so well that, at the time of its merger with Chase in 1955, the Bank of Manhattan operated 67 branches throughout New York City and was widely regarded as one of the most successful and prestigious regional banks in America.

The other part of Chase Manhattan, the Chase National Bank, was established in New York in 1877 and named after Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury under Abraham Lincoln. It was not until 1911, however, when Albert Henry Wiggin took over the leadership of the bank, that Chase developed into a power on Wall Street. In 1905, at the age of 36, Wiggin became the youngest vice-president in the companys history. By 1911 he was president of the bank and by 1917 the chairman of its board of directors.

Chase was a relatively small bank when Wiggin took over, but he soon began to transform it into one of the largest in the world. He did this by expanding the banks list of corporate accounts through the offer of more banking services, especially trust services. Wiggin helped to found Mercantile Trust in 1917 and in the same year organized Chase Securities Corporation to distribute and underwrite stocks and bonds. This affiliate soon became a major force in the equities markets. In addition, Wiggin established strong ties to big business by recruiting the banks directors from the most influential companies in the United States.

Wiggins greatest contribution to the bank was his arrangement of a series of mergers during the 1920s and early 1930s in which Chase absorbed seven major banks in New York City. The largest of those, the Equitable Trust Company, had more than $1 billion in resources when it was acquired in 1930. The eighth largest bank in the United States at the time, it was owned by John D. Rockefeller and led by Rockefellers brother-in-law Winthrop Aldrich. Not long after the merger, Wiggin assumed the chairmanship of what was then the largest bank in the world.

In 1932, however, the leadership at Chase changed dramatically. Wiggin had used not only his own funds, but also those of the bank to engage in stock speculation, and that year was forced to resign. In the following years, Wiggin and several of his close associates were disgraced by a congressional investigation that uncovered, among other transgressions, the use of affiliated companies to circumvent the laws restricting stock market transactions. Moreover, it was learned that during the stock market crash of 1929, Wiggin had made $4 million selling Chase stock shortand using bank funds to do so.

Winthrop Aldrich directed the banks operations from the mid-19308 to the end of World War II, a period when Chase continued to expand and develop, becoming the first bank to open branches in both Germany and Japan after World War II. However, Aldrich knew that Chase was hampered in its domestic development by the fact that all of its consumer branches were located in Manhattan. The bank had always concentrated on corporate and foreign business and ignored innovations such as branch banking, leaving it in a weak position to capitalize on the prosperity of middle-income Americans during the postwar boom. In 1955, Aldrich arranged a merger between Chase and the Bank of Manhattan, at the time the nations 15th largest bank, but more importantly one with an extensive branch network throughout New York City.

From the time of the merger between Chase and the Bank of Manhattan, there was a new driving force behind the banks activities: David Rockefeller. Rockefeller had joined Chase as the assistant manager of its foreign department after the war, becoming vice-president by 1949. In the early 1950s, he was head of the banks metropolitan department; it was actually Rockefeller who advised Aldrich on the benefits of the merger with the Bank of Manhattan. With the merger complete, he was named executive vice-president and given the task of developing the largest bank in New York City. At the same time he was also appointed vice-chairman of the executive committee. In 1969, he became chairman of the board of directors, the same year the Chase Manhattan Corporation was incorporated and the Chase Manhattan Bank N.A. became its wholly-owned subsidiary.

As the head of Chase Manhattan, David Rockefeller soon became a major international power broker. Never really interested in the day-to-day operations of the bank, he began to travel extensively, meeting with political and business leaders around the world. This high international profile led Rockefeller to use the bank in the service of what he regarded as desirable American foreign policy; by becoming one of the pillars of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, his influence on the Council of Foreign Relations and Trilateral Commission was very strong.

This close association between Chase and the prevailing U.S. political establishment inevitably drew the bank into controversy. In 1965, Chases decision to purchase a major share in the second largest bank in South Africa provoked an intense campaign by civil rights groups to persuade institutions and individuals to withdraw their money from a firm that clearly supported the apartheid regime. In 1966, widespread protests were directed against the bank following Rockefellers decision to open a Chase branch in Saigon. A strong supporter of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, Rockefeller traveled to the capital of South Vietnam to open the building personally; a sandstone fortress, it was designed to withstand mortar attacks and mine explosions.

David Rockefeller and Chases foreign controversies continued into the 1970s. During this time, the shah of Iran had been the banks best customer in the Middle East. Irans $2.5 billion in deposits from oil profits amounted to approximately eight percent of Chases total deposits in 1975. When the shah fell from power in 1979, it was Rockefeller who, along with Henry Kissingerat that time the chairman of the firms international advisory committeepersuaded the Carter administration to allow the shah into the United States. When Iran tried to retaliate by withdrawing its funds from Chase, Rockefeller succeeded in convincing the government to freeze all Iranian assets in U.S. banks, a move that led to the seizure of hostages at the American Embassy in Teheran.

The 1970s were a difficult time for the bank. Chase lost significant domestic business as regional banks lessened their dependence on Chase Manhattan for their own growth and expansion; their burgeoning resources made it less important that they go to the bankers banker for loans. In addition, Chase lost millions of dollars in bad loans to Latin American countries, which resulted in its being placed on the Federal Reserves list of problem banksones that needed constant supervision. Although the companys foreign income increased from one-half to two-thirds of its total income during this timeto nearly $4 billionthe bank had a hard time competing with Citibanks aggressive expansion. Nevertheless, Chase remained the countrys third largest bank, with 226 branches in New York City and 105 branches and 34 subsidiaries around the globe.

The 1980s ushered in a period of significant acquisitions for Chase. In 1984, the bank purchased Nederlandse Credietbank N.V., a Dutch bank headquartered in Amsterdam. The same year it purchased the Lincoln First Bank in Rochester, New York. In 1985, the bank bought six Ohio savings and loan institutions. In 1986, Chase acquired Continental Bancor.

In 1981, David Rockefeller retired from his position at Chase. Willard C. Butcher, his hand-picked replacement, had been president and CEO of Chase, and succeeded him as chairman of the board. Butcher took up where his predecessor left off; Chase maintained a very high profile in international finance, continuing to view itself as a worldwide power broker.

But the most important problem for Chase Manhattan in the 1980s was a series of bad loans that had no equal in quantity or in magnitude in the banks history. It started when Drysdale Government Securities defaulted early in 1982 on $160 million in interest payments to brokerage firms. Chase had acted as an intermediary for these deals, and thus was forced to pay $117 million of the interest Drysdale owed. Only a few months later, Penn Square Bank, N.A. collapsed after $2.5 billion in unsecured loans that it had made to oil and natural gas interests in Oklahoma went sour. Chase purchased some of those loans, but moved quickly to write off $161 million of them to prevent further financial damage. Chase had also been one of the most heavily exposed banks lending money to Third World countries. On February 20, 1987 Brazil announced that it would suspend payment on its foreign debt and threw the money-center banks into a panic. In May, Chase added $1.6 billion to its loan loss reserves. As a result, it posted a loss of $894.5 million for 1987the worst year for American banking since the Great Depression.

Battered by the Third World debt crisis and faced with strong competition from insurgent regional banks, Chase Manhattan faltered in the late 1980s. Between 1986 and 1988, it reduced its work force by ten percent, or about 6,000 employees. In 1988 the New York Times speculated that the venerable banking giant might be a takeover candidate because of its depressed stock price and prestigious name. Then, in 1989 and 1990 Chase suffered huge losses from commercial real estate loans, sinking the banks finances to new lows. Reflecting the seriousness of the situation, the banks board asked Butcher to retire a year early so that a new team could deal with the crisis.

Butchers heir apparent during the turbulent late 1980s was his president and chief operating officer, Thomas G. Labrecque. Following a stint in the Navy, Labrecque had joined Chase in 1964 as a trainee, moving up the ranks until 1970 when he started working directly for Rockefeller on various troubleshooting assignments. He made his mark at Chase in 1975 with his work on the Municipal Assistance Corp. which helped bail New York City out of a financial crisis. Labrecque was also credited with convincing Chases board in 1978 that the bank should expand its retail businesswhich by the 1990s would generate nearly half of the banks revenues. In 1981 he was named president.

Industry observers noted that Labrecques more well-known predecessors had emphasized Chases worldwide position at the expense of a domestic operation which, with its various problems and scandals of the 1980s, seemed out of control. When Labrecquevirtually unknown outside of banking circles took over as CEO in late 1990, his immediate task was to implement a restructuring plan intended to rein in control of Chases operations and turn the banks fortunes around. Like other banks struggling through those industry-wide difficult years, Chase cut costs, trimmed staff (another 6,000 by the end of 1991), and reduced operations. Labrecque also scaled back the banks international presence by beginning to jettison its foreign retail banking subsidiaries; no longer would Chase aim to be a full-service world bank, such as its long-time rival Citicorp. Branch banking operations outside the New York areain Arizona, Florida, and Ohiowere eliminated. Successful consumer lending operations were shorn up through such moves as the 1993 acquisition of consumer mortgage company Troy & Nichols, Inc. Overall, Chase intended to concentrate on three areas: regional banking in the New York tristate region; national consumer operations in credit cards, mortgages, and automobile loans; and international investment banking.

Chase also began at this time to focus more on technology, a particular strength of the man Labrecque chose as his president, Arthur F. Ryan, who had been in charge of the firms consumer bank. The company initiated a $500 million program to upgrade its information processing systems. It also entered into the online home banking arena through alliances with Microsoft Corp., Intuit Inc., America Online, and CompuServe.

Perhaps most importantly, Labrecque and Ryan embarked in 1992 on a program to transform Chases corporate culture. In addition to efforts to bolster quality control and customer service, perhaps the most important addition to Chases operations was that of teamwork; the bank had historically suffered from turf wars. As a result of these efforts, by 1994, cost-containment efforts had translated into an improvement in the banks overhead efficiency ratio (noninterest expenses divided by revenues) from 75 percent to 60 percent. Following a net loss of $334 million in 1990, Chase enjoyed four successive years healthily in the black; 1991 showed $520 million in net income on net revenues of $3.35 billion, while 1994 showed $1.08 billion in net income on net revenues of $3.69 billion.

The question for Chase in the mid-1990s was whether all of Labrecque and Ryans efforts had come soon enough to save the banks independence. In the fiercely competitive environment of the times, Chase had actually lost ground; increasing consolidation engendered through a mind-boggling series of bank mergers from 1993 through 1995 had caused Chases ranking among U.S. banks to fall from second to seventh in terms of total assets. Weakness in the price of its stock, reflecting ongoing investor skepticism, not only prevented Chase from strengthening itself through further acquisitions but also made the bank itself vulnerable to takeover. Moreover, the companys June 1995 announcement to lay off an additional 3,000 to 6,000 workers (or 8.5 to 17 percent of its work force) by early 1996, further fueled takeover speculation.

Finally, on August 28, 1995, the wait was over. Chemical Banking Corporation announced a merger with Chase Manhattan. The $10 billion stock swap transformed sixth-largest Chase and fourth-largest Chemical into the largest banking company on the United States with assets of nearly $300 billion. Although it was termed a merger of equals, it was regarded by the market as an acquisition of Chase by Chemical even though the combined corporation would use the more prestigious Chase name.

In September 1995, the first round of executive positions was announced with more than half the positions going to Chemical executives. As the year closed, Chase was adjusting to the merger and to its new position as the largest banking concern in the U.S.

Principal Subsidiaries

Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Argentina); Chase Manhattan Trading S.A. (Argentina); Chase Manhattan Bank (Austria), A.G.; Chase Manhattan Trust Cayman Ltd. (Bahamas); Chase Manhattan Trust Corporation Limited (Bahamas); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Bahrain); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Belgium); Banco Chase Manhattan S.A. (Brazil); Chase Manhattan Administracao E Servicios, S.A. (Brazil); Chase Manhattan, S.A. Crédito Financiamento Investimento (Brazil); Chase Manhattan, S.A. Distribuidora de Titulos E Valores Mobiliarios (Brazil); Chase Manhattan Bank of Canada; Chase Manhattan Leasing Canada Limited; Chase Bank & Trust Co. (Channel Islands), Ltd. (Channel Islands); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Channel Islands); Chase Manhattan Trust Corporation Limited (Chile); Inversiones Chase Manhattan Limitada (Chile); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (China); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Colombia); Chase Invest A/S (Denmark); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Denmark); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Dominican Republic); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (France); Chase Manhattan, S.A. (France); Chase Bank, A.G. (Germany); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Greece); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Hong Kong); Chase Manhattan Financial Services (Hong Kong) Ltd.;

Chase Manhattan Investment Services (Hong Kong) Ltd.; Chase Manhattan Trust Company (Hong Kong) Ltd.; Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (India); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Indonesia); P.T. Chase Leasing Indonesia; Chase Bank (Ireland) PLC; Chasefin-Chase Finanziara, S.p.A. (Italy); Chase Investmenti Mobiliari S.p.A. (Italy); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Italy); Chase Leasing (Japan) Limited; Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Japan); Chase Manhattan Securities (Japan); Chase Manhattan Trust and Banking Company (Japan) Limited; Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Korea); Chase Manhattan Bank Luxembourg, S.A.; Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Malaysia); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Mexico); Chase Bank NV (Netherlands); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Netherlands); Chase Manhattan Overseas Finance Corporation, N.V. (Netherlands); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Pakistan); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Panama); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Philippines); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Portugal); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Russia); Chase Investment Bank Limited (Singapore); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Singapore); Chase Manhattan Futures Corp. (Singapore); Chase Manhattan Bank España S.A.; Chase Manhattan Bank, S.A. (Spain); Chase Manhattan Securities S.A. (Spain); Chase Leasing (S.A.E.) (Spain); Chase Manhattan Overseas Corporation (Sweden); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A (Switzerland); Chase Manhattan Bank (Switzerland); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Taiwan); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Thailand); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (Turkey); Chase Investment Bank Holdings Limited (U.K.); Chase Investment Bank Limited (U.K.); Chase Leasing Limited (U.K.); Chase Manhattan Capital Markets (U.K.) Ltd.; Chase Manhattan Equities Limited; Chase Manhattan Futures (U.K.) Ltd.; Chase Manhattan Gilts Ltd. (U.K.); Chase Manhattan Milbank, Ltd. (U.K.); Chase Manhattan Trustees, Ltd. (U.K.); Chase Trade Finance, Ltd. (U.K.); Chase Home Mortgage Cor-poration; Chase Manhattan of California Thrift Corp.; The Chase Manhattan Bank (USA), N.A.; Chase Bank of Maryland; Chase National Corporate Services, Inc.; Chase Trade, Inc.; Chase Auto Finance Corp.; Chase Education Finance; Chase Manhattan Futures Corp.; Chase Manhattan Trust Co. of California, N.A.; Chase Access Services Corp.; Chase Automated Clearing House, Inc.; Chase U.S. Consumer Services.

Further Reading

Hansell, Saul, Chemical Wins Most Top Posts In Chase Merger,New York Times, September 29, 1995, p. Cl, C6.

Holland, Kelley, A Chastened Chase: The Humbled Bank Starts to Reviveby Transforming Its Culture, Business Week, pp. 106-109.

Lipin, Steven, Joining Fortunes: Chemical and Chase Set $10 Billion Merger, Forming Biggest Bank, Wall Street Journal, August 28, 1995, p. Al, A4.

Meehan, John, and Leah J. Nathans, Agony at Chase Manhattan: Can Incoming CEO Labrecque Keep the Bank Independent?, Business Week, October 8, 1990, pp. 32-36.

OBrien, Timothy L., and Steven Lipin, In Latest Round of Banking Mergers, Even Big Institutions Become Targets, Wall Street Journal, July 14, 1995, pp. A3, A4.

OBrien, Timothy L., Chase Manhattan Planning to Lay Off 8.5% to
17% of Work Force by Early 96, Wall Street Journal, June 27, 1995, p. A3.

_____, Intuit to Unveil On-Line Pact with 20 Firms, Wall Street Journal, July 14, 1995, pp. A2, A5.

Rogers, David, The Future of American Banking: Managing for Change, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993, 346 p.

Schifrin, Matthew, Chase Manhattans Unsung Turnaround, Forbes, October 25, 1993, pp. 141-146.

Wilson, John Donald, The Chase: The Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A., 1945-1985, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1986, 432 p.

updated by David E. Salamie

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"The Chase Manhattan Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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The Chase Manhattan Corporation

The Chase Manhattan Corporation

1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
New York, New York 10081
U.S.A.
(212) 552-2222

Public Company
Incorpored:
1969
Employees: 42,000
Assets: $97.46 billion
Stock Index: New York London Paris Tokyo Düsseldorf Frankfurt

In the 1931 movie Monkey Business, Groucho Marxs character asks Alky Briggs, his gangster nemesis, Whats the capital of South Dakota? Whats the capital of Chase Manhattan Bank? Then, as now, Chase Manhattans capital happened to be quite a lot; today it is the second largest bank in the United States. It offers a wide range of financial services, its subsidiaries and branch offices ring the globe, and it has been a major player on Wall Street for more than 70 years. Groucho didnt have to worry about whether or not his audience would recognize the reference, even during the Great Depression. In good times and bad, people have always recognized the Chase Manhattan name.

Chase Manhattans earliest predecessor, The Manhattan Company, was formed in 1799, ostensibly to supply New York with clean water to fight a yellow fever epidemic. However, its real purpose was to establish a bank. Organized by Aaron Burr to challenge the supremacy of the Bank of New York and the Bank of the United States, Burr had surreptitiously inserted a clause into the companys charter authorizing it to engage in other businesses with any leftover capital. To no ones surprise, the company soon discovered that the water-supply operation would not require all of its resources, and so the Bank of Manhattan Company was opened in 1799 at 40 Wall Street. The banks first president was Daniel Ludlow.

In 1808, the year Daniel Ludlow resigned, the company was allowed to sell the water operation to the City of New York and devote its energy to banking. From that time onward, the Bank of Manhattan flourished. The bank introduced several innovative banking practices, including the shady method by which it gained a charter. Its example spawned further corruption among other groups who sought incorporation; the construction of canals during the 1820s and 1830s or the building of railroads in the 1850s and 1860s often became the pretext for procuring a bank charter that might not otherwise have been granted.

Since the bank had virtually no restrictions in its charter, it was able to loan money to all kinds of people. The bank dealt with tradesmen, land speculators, and manufacturers as well as the New York state government. This open banking policy provided a great impetus for westward expansion in the United States during the mid- and late-19th century. By the turn of the century the Bank of Manhattan had established itself as one of the largest holders of individual depositor accounts. Its policy of providing personal banking services worked so well that, at the time of its merger with Chase in 1955, the Bank of Manhattan operated 67 branches throughout New York City and was widely regarded as one of the most successful and prestigious regional banks in America.

The other part of Chase Manhattan, the Chase National Bank, was established in New York in 1877 and named after Salmon P. Chase, secretary of the treasury under Abraham Lincoln. It was not until 1911, however, when Albert Henry Wiggin took over the leadership of the bank, that Chase developed into a power on Wall Street. In 1905, at the age of 36, Wiggin became the youngest vice president in the companys history; by 1911 he was president of the bank and by 1917 the chairman of its board of directors.

Chase was a relatively small bank when Wiggin took over, but he soon began to transform it into one of the largest in the world. Wiggin did this by expanding the banks list of corporate accounts through the offer of more banking services, especially trust services. He helped to found Mercantile Trust in 1917, and in the same year organized Chase Securities Corporation to distribute and underwrite stocks and bonds. This affiliate soon became a major force in the equities markets. In addition, Wiggin established strong ties to big business by recruiting the banks directors from the most influential companies in the United States.

Wiggins greatest contribution to the bank was his arrangement of a series of mergers during the 1920s and early 1930s in which Chase absorbed seven major banks in New York City. The largest of those, the Equitable Trust Company, had more than $1 billion in resources when it was acquired in 1930. The eighth-largest bank in the United States at the time, it was owned by John D. Rockefeller and led by Rockefellers brother-in-law Winthrop Aldrich. Not long after the merger, Wiggin assumed the chairmanship of what was then the largest bank in the world.

In 1932, however, the leadership at Chase changed dramatically. Wiggin had used not only his own funds, but also those of the bank to engage in stock speculation, and that year was forced to resign. In the following years, Wiggin and a number of his close associates were disgraced by a congressional investigation that uncovered, among other transgressions, the use of affiliated companies to circumvent the laws restricting stock market transactions and the fact that, during the stock market crash Wiggin had made $4 million selling Chase stock shortusing bank funds to do so.

Winthrop Aldrich directed the banks operations from the mid-1930s to the end of World War II, a period when Chase continued to expand and develop, becoming the first bank to open branches in both Germany and Japan after World War II. However, Aldrich knew that Chase was hampered in its domestic development because all of its consumer branches were located in Manhattan. The bank had always concentrated on corporate and foreign business and ignored innovations such as branch banking, leaving it in a weak position to capitalize on the prosperity of middle-class Americans during the postwar boom. And so in 1955, Aldrich arranged a merger between Chase and the Bank of Manhattan, at the time the nations 15th-largest bank, but more importantly one with an extensive branch network throughout New York City.

From the time of the merger between Chase and the Bank of Manhattan, there was a new driving force behind the banks activities: David Rockefeller. Rockefeller had joined Chase as the assistant manager of its foreign department after the war, becoming vice president by 1949. In the early 1950s, he was head of the banks metropolitan department; it was actually Rockefeller who advised Aldrich on the benefits of the merger with the Bank of Manhattan. With the merger complete, he was named executive vice president and given the responsibility for developing the largest bank in New York City. At the same time he was also appointed vice chairman of the executive committee. In 1969, he became chairman of the board of directors, the same year the Chase Manhattan Corporation was incorporated and the Chase Manhattan Bank N.A. became is wholly owned subsidiary.

As the head of Chase Manhattan, David Rockefeller soon became a major international power-broker. Never really interested in the day-to-day operations of the bank, he began to travel constantly, meeting with political and business leaders around the world. This high international profile led Rockefeller to use the bank in the service of what he thought was desirable American foreign policy; by becoming one of the pillars of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment, his influence on the Council of Foreign Relations and Trilateral Commission was very strong.

This close association between Chase and the prevailing U.S. political establishment inevitably drew the bank into controversy. In 1965, Chases decision to purchase a major share in the second-largest bank in South Africa provoked an intense campaign by civil rights groups to persuade institutions and individuals to withdraw their money from a firm that clearly supported the apartheid regime. And, in 1966, widespread protests were directed against the bank because of Rockefellers decision to open a Chase branch in Saigon. A strong supporter of American involvement in the Vietnam War, Rockefeller traveled to the southern capital of Vietnam to open the building personally; a sandstone fortress, it was designed to withstand mortar attacks and mine explosions.

David Rockefeller and Chases foreign controversies continued into the 1970s. The shah of Iran had been the banks best customer in the Middle East; Irans $2.5 billion in deposits from oil profits amounted to approximately 8% of Chases total deposits in 1975. When the shah fell from power in 1979, it was Rockefeller who, with Henry Kissinger, at that time the chairman of the firms international advisory committee, persuaded the Carter administration to allow him into the United States. When Iran tried to retaliate by removing its deposits from Chase to other banks, Rockefeller succeeded in convincing the government to freeze all Iranian assets in U.S. banks, the move that led to the seizure of hostages at the American Embassy in Teheran.

Despite Chase Manhattans power and influence in international finance, the 1970s were a difficult time for the bank. Chase lost significant domestic business as regional banks lessened their dependence on Chase Manhattan for their own growth and expansion; their burgeoning resources made it less important that they go to the bankers banker for loans. In addition, Chase lost millions of dollars in bad loans to Latin American countries, which resulted in its being placed on the Federal Reserves list of problem banks that needed constant supervision. Although the companys foreign income increased from one-half to two-thirds of its total income during this timeto nearly $4 billionthe bank had a hard time competing with Citibanks aggressive strategy. Notwithstanding these problems, Chase remained the countrys third-largest bank, with 226 branches in New York City and 105 branches and 34 subsidiaries around the globe.

The 1980s ushered in a period of significant acquisitions for Chase. In 1984, the bank purchased Nederlandse Credietbank N.V., a Dutch bank headquartered in Amsterdam; in the same year it also purchased the Lincoln First Bank in Rochester, New York; in 1985, the bank bought six Ohio savings-and-loan institutions; and in 1986, Chase acquired Continental Bancor.

In 1981, David Rockefeller retired from his position at Chase. Willard C. Butcher, his hand-picked replacement, had been president and CEO of Chase, and succeeded him as chairman of the board. Butcher took up where his predecessor left off; Chase maintains a very high profile in international finance and still likes to see itself as a power-broker there.

But the most important problem for Chase Manhattan in the 1980s was a series of bad loans that had no equal in quantity or in magnitude in the banks history. It started in 1982, when Penn Square Bank collapsed after billions of dollars in unsecured loans that it had made to oil and natural gas interests in Oklahoma went sour. Chase purchased some of those loans, but moved quickly to write off many of them to prevent further financial damage. Chase has also been one of the most heavily exposed banks loaning money to Third World countries. On February 20, 1987 Brazil announced that it would suspend payment on its foreign debt and threw the money-center banks into a panic. In May, Chase added a whopping $1.6 billion to its loan loss reserves. As a result, it posted a loss of $894.5 million for 1987the worst year for American banking since the Great Depression.

Battered by the Third World debt crisis and faced with strong competition from insurgent regional banks, Chase Manhattan has been sagging against the ropes in the late 1980s. Between 1986 and 1988, it reduced its workforce by 10%, or about 6,000 employees. In 1988 The New York Times speculated that the venerable banking giant might be a takeover candidate because of its depressed stock price and prestigious name. But prestigious is the word most worth keeping in mind here. Even in bad times, people recognize the Chase Manhattan name.

Principal Subsidiaries

Saudi Investment Bank; Chase AMP Bank Ltd. (Australia); Chase Manhattan Asia Limited (Hong Kong); Chase Manhattan Trust Company (Hong Kong) Ltd.; Chase Manhattan Investment Services (Hong Kong) Ltd.; Chase Manhattan Trust and Banking Co. (Japan) Ltd.; Chase Leasing (Japan) Ltd.; Amanah Merchant Bank Berhad (Malaysia); Chase Investment Bank (Singapore) Limited; Chase Manhattan Futures (U.K.) Ltd.; Chase Manhattan Capital Markets (U.K.) Ltd.; Chase Leasing Ltd. (United Kingdom); P.T. Chase Leasing Indonesia; Chase Manhattan Bank (Austria), A.G.; Chase Bank and Trust Co. (C.I.) Ltd. (Channel Islands); Chase Invest A/S (Denmark); Chase Manhattan S.A. (France); Chase Manhattan Bank Luxembourg, S.A.; Chase Manhattan Bank (Norway) A.S.; Chase Bank (Ireland) PLC; Chase Manhattan Bank España S.A.; Chase Manhattan Securities, S.A. (Spain); Chase Manhattan Bank (Switzerland); Chase Investment Bank Ltd. (United Kingdom); Chase Manhattan Milbank Ltd. (United Kingdom); Chase Manhattan Futures (U.K.) Ltd.; Chase Manhattan Gilts Ltd. (United Kingdom); Chase Manhattan Market Makers Ltd. (United Kingdom); Chase Manhattan Service Management Ltd. (United Kingdom); Libra Bank Pic. (United Kingdom); Financiere dTnvestissements et de Construction Immobiliere, (F.I.C.I.) (France); Chasefin-Chase Finanziaria, S.p.A. (Italy); Chase Investmenti Mobiliari S.p.A. (Italy); Chase Leasing S.A. (Spain); Chase Tade Finance Ltd. (United Kingdom); Chase Manhattan Trading, S.A. (Argentina); The Chase Manhattan Trust Corporation Limited (Bahamas); Banco Chase Manhattan, S.A.(Brazil); The Chase Manhattan Bank of Canada; Chase Manhattan Trust Cayman Ltd.; Inversiones Chase Manhattan Limitad (Chile); Chase Investment Bank (Panama) S.A.; Chase Manhattan Capital Markets Corp. of Puerto Rico; Chase Manhattan, S.A. Credito Financiamento Investimento (Brazil); Chase Bank AG (Germany); Chase Manhattan Overseas Finance Corp. N.V. (St. Maarten); Chase Manhattan Investment (Uruguay) S.A.; Chase Manhattan Leasing Canada, Ltd.; Chase Securities, Inc.; Chase Commercial Corp.; Chase Home Mortgage Corporation; Chase Investors Management Corp. New York; Chase Manhattan of California Thrift Corp.; Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A.; Chase Manhattan of Utah; Chase Bank of Ohio; Chase Manhattan Capital Markets Corp.; Chase Manhattan Financial Services, Inc.; Chase Bank of Maryland; Chase Manhattan Overseas Banking Corp.; Chase Manhattan Service Corp.; Chase Manhattan Leasing Company; Chase National Corporate Services, Inc.; Chase Lincoln First Bank, N.A.; Chase Trans-Info, Inc.; Chase Bank of Arizona; Chase Bank of Florida; Chase Bank International; Chase Manhattan Investment Holdings, Inc.; The Chase Manhattan Bank (USA), N.A.; Chase Trade, Inc.; Chase Auto Leasing Corp.; Chase Manhattan Financial Center, Inc.; Chase Manhattan Futures Corp.; Chase Manhattan Trust Co. of California, N.A.; Chase Access Services Corp.; Chase Automated Clearing House, Inc.; Chase Manhattan Thailand, Ltd.; Information and Services of Puerto Rico, Inc.; Chase/Clark Credit Company; Saudi Investment Bank.

Further Reading

Wilson, John Donald. The Chase: The Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A., 1945-1985, Boston, Harvard Business School Press, 1986.

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"The Chase Manhattan Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"The Chase Manhattan Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/chase-manhattan-corporation-0

"The Chase Manhattan Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/chase-manhattan-corporation-0