Largest Banks in the World BankAmerica Corporation Part 2

About one of the largest banks in the world BankAmerica Corporation, history and holdings, personalities and presidents.


BankAmerica Corporation

Personalities: Amadeo Giannini was born in San Jose, Calif., on May 6, 1870. His parents had come to the U.S. from Genoa, Italy. They operated the 20-room hotel where Amadeo was born. The family prospered and Giannini's father bought a 40-acre farm, but he was killed by a workman six years later. Amadeo moved with his mother and new stepfather, Lorenzo Scatena, to San Francisco in 1882.

Scatena set up a business selling farm produce for a commission. By the time Amadeo Giannini was 21, he owned a half-interest in his step-father's business and was advising Scatena about making loans to farmers the firm did business with. In 1901 Giannini retired from Scatena's business. He had a steady income from real estate investments, and he sold his share of the commission business for about $100,000.

In 1902 Giannini's father-in-law died without having made a will. Giannini was given the responsibility of managing the $500,000 estate, which included shares in the Columbus Savings and Loan Society.

Giannini took over his father-in-law's seat on the bank's board of directors. He tried to get the bank to loan money to the Italian immigrants in San Francisco's North Beach and to other ethnic communities. His fellow directors preferred to continue the bank's policy of loaning most of its money outside San Francisco. In 1904 Amadeo Giannini left Columbus Savings to form his own bank.

Claire Giannini Hoffman, Amadeo's daughter, was the first woman to serve on the board of directors of Bank of America. Today, there are no women on the board of directors of the holding company, BankAmerica Corporation, but Mrs. Hoffman, now in her 70s, retains a seat on the bank's board of directors as an honorary director.

The current president and chief executive officer of BankAmerica, A. W. "Tom" Clausen, got into the banking business by chance, when he moved to California to increase his chances of marrying his law school classmate's sister. Clausen had intended to practice law in Minnesota, but the future Mrs. Clausen moved from Duluth to Los Angeles. He took a job as a cash counter in the vault while he studied for the California bar exam. Clausen, who got the nickname Tom from a part he once had in a school play, soon joined the bank's training program. He thus began his rise to the top in a company whose name he had never heard of before coming to California.

Present-Day Holdings: The Bank of America is the principal asset of the BankAmerica Corporation. In 1976, its retail banking loans included $2 billion to farmers and ranchers, $1.6 billion of real estate mortgages, and $3.4 billion (year end) of consumer loans, not counting BankAmericard loans. The holding company's largest nonbank subsidiary is FinanceAmerica Corporation, which had over $165 million in loans outstanding at the end of 1976.

BankAmerica Corporation's subsidiaries operate under the names Bank of America, BA, and Bamerical. Other subsidiaries are Merchants National Realty Company, Small Business Enterprises Company, BankAmerica Service Corporation, and Bankhaus Centrale Credit. Nonbanking subsidiaries also use the BankAmerica and BA names. In addition, nonbank subsidiaries include Decimus Computer Leasing Corporation and WesternAmerica Financial, Inc.

BankAmerica's trust department had over $19 billion in custody in 1976, which ranked it eighth among U.S. nationally chartered trust departments. The bank's 50 largest stock holdings in discretionary trust accounts at the end of 1976 included 3.9% of the stock of Western Ban-corporation, 3.6% of Fluor Corporation, 2.2% of Inland Steel Company, 2.8% of H. J. Heinz Company, 1.6% of the Whirlpool Corporation, 1.6% of Walt Disney Productions, 1.3% of Safeway Stores, and over 1% of each of the following utility companies: Florida Power and Light Company (1.9%), Houston Lighting and Power Company (2.1%), Middle South Utilities (1.8%), and Texas Utilities Company (1.6%).

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