Companies, credit ratings, banks and bailouts
Page last modified 15/7/2020
See also Price levels and general economic events.
For airline companies see Aviation.
For railway companies see rail travel.
23/9/2019, British travel agent Thomas Cook went into liquidation;150,000 holidaymakers needed repatriation. The company had taken on too much debt and expanded into areas such as Turkey and Tunisia that were then hit by terrorism fears. It also had to bear physical shop costs whereas many of its competitors were online-only, and Brexit and good weather in the UK reduced demand for foreign holidays.
27/1/2018, Ingvar Kamprad, founder of the IKEA chain, died aged 91.
15/1/2018, The British public sector contracting company Carillion went into liquidation, threatening the jobs of its 43,000 employees and the viability of 30,000 subcontractors, in areas as diverse as school meals, infrastructure construction, and army bases.
2/6/2016, British Home Stores, once a flagship of UK High Streets, went into liquidation. No buyer had been found for the 88-year-old business, putting 163 stores and 11,000 jobs on the line.
22/2/2013, The Credit Agency, Moodys, downgraded the UK’s rating from AAA to AA1.
21/2/2012, A second bailout of Euro 130 billion was agreed for Greece.
16/5/2011, The European Union agreed to a Euro 78 billion rescue deal for Portugal.
6/4/2011, Portugal asked for a bailout from the EU.
21/11/2010, Ireland asked for a bailout from the EU.
2/5/2010, The EU and the IMF agreed a Euro 110 billion bailout for Greece; Greece would adopt austerity measures.
17/3/2010, LTI, the last motor manufacturing plant in Coventry since 2008, announced that it would be shifting production of its taxi cab body and chassis to China, but still shipping them to Coventry for the final assembly.
27/11/2009, Dubai requested a debt restructuring following from heavy investment in building projects; the announcement caused shares to fall worldwide.
15/3/2009, The Bank of England cut rates to a record low of 0.5%, where they remained in 2015; it also announced £75 billion of quantitative easing.
2008, Westfield shopping centre, Shepherds Bush, London, 150,000 sq m, opened.
2008, Liverpool 1 shopping centre, 130,000 sq m, opened.
11/12/2008, Bernard Madoff was arrested in the US on charges of running a huge Ponzi scheme.
13/10/2008, The UK Government bailed out the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and HBOS, using billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
1/10/2008, The French power company EdF acquired British Energy plc, which operated 8 of Britain’s 10 nuclear power stations.
15/9/2008, As the global Credit Crunch took hold, Lehman Brothers, the 4th largest US investment bank, collapsed.
14/7 2008, In the midst of the Credit Crunch, the Spanish bank Santander bought the troubled UK bank Alliance and Leicester.
14/3/2008, In the midst of the Credit Crunch, investment bank Bear Sterns was bought by rival JP Morgan for US$ 236 million (UK£ 155 million).
22/2/2008, The Northern Rock Building Society had to be taken into State control due to the subprime mortgage lending crisis.
18/2/2008, The UK Parliament passed an emergency Bill allowing the nationalisation of Northern Rock.
13/9/2007, In the UK, Northern Rock bank sought emergency funds from the Bank of England due to liquidity problems, precipitating a run on the bank.
9/8/2007, The French bank, Paribas, halted withdrawals from three of its funds due to ‘complete evaporation of liquidity. The Credit Crunch had begun.
20/10/2006, Corus announced that it had accepted a £4.3 billion offer from Tata Steel.
5/2006, The verdicts came in from the Enron trial (see 2/12/2001). Mr Lay, a chief executive of the company, was found guilty on all charges against him, including conspiracy, false statements, securities fraud and bank fraud. Lay died before sentencing whilst on holiday in Aspen. Mr Skilling was found guilty on 18 out of 21 charges, and was sentenced to 24 years 4 months in prison and ordered to repay US$ 26 million; he appealed.
19/8/2004, Google was listed as a private company.
14/11/2002, Argentina defaulted on a US$ 805 million payment due to the World Bank.
2/12/2001, In the US, Enron, a Houston-based energy-trading conglomerate, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a planned buy-out by Dynergy fell through. This was the largest bankruptcy in the US to date; Enron had debts in excess of US$ 40 billion. See 8/11/2001.
8/11/2001, The Enron Corporation was forced to write down its earnings back to 1997 by 20% and reduce its retained earnings by US$ 2.2 billion, following an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Enron had concealed its partnerships with Chewco and Joint Energy Development Investments, which kept a US$ 600 million debt hidden from Enron’s balance sheet. See 2/12/2001.
24/10.2001, Mr Fastow resigned as Chief Financial Officer of Enron, with a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation pending.
16/10/2001, Enron reported a US$ 618 million third quarter loss.
14/8/2001, Mr Skilling, CEO of Enron since 1997, unexpectedly announced his resignation ‘for personal reasons’. Enron stock, which investors had been assured was going to reach US$ 100, plunged to below US$ 40.
28/9/2000, The West Quay shopping centre opened in Southampton. This immediately upped Southampton’s Experian ranking in terms of UK shopping centres from 38th to 13th; the ranking subsequently improved further to 7th by 2002.
15/6/2000. The clothes retailer C & A announced it was closing all its stores and making its 4,800 staff redundant.
1999, Bluewater shopping centre, Kent, 155,700 sq m, opened.
1998, Trafford shopping centre, Manchester, 137,400 sq m, opened.
1998, In the UK, British Steel was privatised.
22/6/1998, Tony Blair praised the £758 million London Millennium Dome, erected on a former gasworks site, as a ‘symbol of Britain’s creativity. Construction of the Dome had begun on 22/6/1997.
1996, In the UK, British Nuclear Power was privatised. British Rail was privatised.
2/12/1995, In Singapore, rogue trader Nick Leeson was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison. He had been extradited from Germany and pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery.
1995, In the UK, Powergen was privatised. National Power was privatised. British Coal was privatised.
1995, Ebay was founded. It was originally called Auctionweb and changed to its current name in 1997.
2/3/1995. Financial dealer Nick Leeson was arrested at Frankfurt Airport after a week-long manhunt. The derivatives trader, working for Barings Bank, see 26/2/1995, had bet on the Japanese futures market, and assumed that the Nikkei would rise; it fell, especially after the Kobe earthquake. Barings lost £860 million. Later in December 1995, after apparently striking a deal with the Singapore authorities, Leeson was sentenced to six and a half years.
26/2/1995. The 200 year old Barings Bank went into receivership. One of its brokers, Nick Leeson, had lost US$1.4 billion speculating on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. See 2/3/1995.
10/11/1993. Euro Disney announced losses of US$ 900 million after its first year of business. Europe-wide recession, high interest rates, and high unemployment were blamed by management for the losses. The 10,000 staff fear further job cuts on top of the 950 already dismissed, but must keep smiling to welcome the visitors (both of them).
29/3/1993. Two Hoover executives were fired by the American parent company Maytag after the free-flights fiasco. The deal whereby any Hoover purchase over £100 entitled the customer to a flight worth £400 was vastly over-subscribed and cost Hoover over £20 million.
2/10/1992. In the USA, IBM announced it was to lay off 40,000 workers, 25% of its workforce.
6/3/1992. British Telecom announced 25,000 job cuts, over 10% of the workforce.
17/1/1992, IBM announced its biggest ever loss, US$ 564 million,
9/12/1991, £420 million was found to be missing from pension funds controlled by the late Robert Maxwell, who died on 5/11/1991.
5/11/1991. The body of the millionaire publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell was found at sea hours after disappearing from his yacht off the Canary Islands. The funeral was in Israel on 8/11/1991.
29/4/1991. Marks and Spencer announced 850 job losses in the first redundancy programme since the 1950s.
28/2/1991. British banks announced major job losses, despite a cut in interest rates to 13% on 27/2/1991. Barclays planned to shed 5,000 jobs. Overall, some 30,000 banking jobs were expected to go in the next two years.
1990, Meadowhall shopping centre, Sheffield, 132,000 sq m, opened.
1990, Lakeside shopping centre, Essex, 130,300 sq m, opened.
29/6/1990. British Steel revealed that its Chairman, Sir Robert Scholey, received a 79% pay increase in 1989, taking his annual pay to £308,541.
25/12/1989, The Bank of Japan announced a large rise in interest rates, leading to the collapse of Japan’s bubble economy.
1987, In the UK, Rolls Royce was privatised. British Airways was privatised. British Airports Authority was privatised. A second tranche of British Petroleum was privatised.
1986, In the UK, British Gas was privatised.
1986, The Metro Shopping centre, Gateshead, 165,000 sq m, opened.
1985, Merryhill shopping centre, Dudley, 148,000 sq m, opened.
1985, Enron was founded as the result of a merger between Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth. The Chariman of the new company was Kenneth Lay.
31/3/1985, In Britain, the National Coal Board announced a record loss of £2,225 million.
11/3/1985. The Al-Fayed brothers won control of the House of Fraser Group to become owners of Harrods.
1984, In the UK, British Telecom was privatised. Enterprise Oil was privatised. Jaguar was privatised.
1983, The Microfinance movement began when Nobel Prizewinner Muhammad Yunus founded the first Grameen (Village) Bank in the Bangladeshi village of Jobra. He lent to women, as they were a better credit risk than men.
1983, In the UK, Associated British Ports was privatised. Cable and Wireless was privatised.
6/1983, The first issue of a new type of mortgage-backed security known as a Collateralised Mortgage Obligation was made. This effectively converted bundles of household mortgages into bonds, and the buyers of these bonds knew nothing about the soundness of the mortgages they were buying into. So long as house prices kept rising, the odd default could be absorbed of course.
1982 In the UK, the National Freight Corporation was privatised. Britoil was privatised. Amersham International was privatised.
1982, St David’s shopping centre, Cardiff, 129,500 sq m, opened.
7/10/1982, In the UK, the major banks cut their base rate from 10.5% to 10%.. British Steel warned that one or more of its large plants would have to close.
14/8/1982, Barclays Bank opened on a Saturday, for the first time in 13 years.
1981, In the UK, Cable & Wireless was privatised.
1980, In the UK, British Aerospace was privatised.
15/2/1980, As the UK steel strike continued, middle management passed a vote of no confidence in the board of executives.
17/1/1980, British Steel announced it would axe 11,287 jobs by end-March 1980.
1979, In the UK, British Petroleum was privatised.
1976, The first Body Shop opened, in Brighton.
1975, Manchester Arndale, 130,000 sq m, opened.
15/3/1975, Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping magnate and Olympic Airways operator, second husband of Jacqueline Kennedy, died.
14/8/1974, Clarksons and Horizon Holidays collapsed, leaving over 5,000 stranded abroad.
1972, British Airways was formed when BEA (British European Airways) and BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) merged
14/6/1971, The UK Government said no public money would be provided to save Upper Clyde shipbuilders from liquidation. 4,000 jobs were at risk, and employees planned a ‘work-in’.
4/2/1971. Rolls Royce declared bankrupt in the UK.
1970, Penn Central collapsed, It had been the USA’s largest railway company, and the 6th largest US company overall
26/1/1968. The two British banks, the National Provincial and the Westminster, merged to form the National Westminster Bank.
27/6/1967. Barclay’s Bank, in Enfield, north London, opened Britain’s first cash dispenser.
18/10/1966. Death of the cosmetic company founder, Elizabeth Arden.
29/6/1966, Barclaycard, the first British credit card, was introduced.
11/1/1966. Barclays Bank announced plans to go into the credit card business with its Barclaycard, available free to both customers and non-customers of the bank. The card would have a limit of £25, and higher amounts could be spent following a telephone check. Hoteliers objected vigorously since promoters make their profit by taking a discount from the amount charged to the card, typically 5% to 10%. Barclays announced that the discount would be 3% to 5%.
31/5/1965. Duty free cigarettes went on sale at Heathrow Airport at £1 for 200. A spokesman for Tetley’s, Britain’s biggest teabag manufacturer, said they would have 25% of the market by 1975.
25/8/1958, Midland Bank was the first bank to announce it would offer personal loans, from September 1958.
15/2/1951, Britain nationalised the iron and steel industry.
18/7/1950, Richard Branson, head of the Virgin companies, was born.
30/6/1950, It was announced that the National Coal Board made a profit of £9.5 million in 1949.
13/7/1948, It was announced that the UK coal industry lost £13 million in its first year of nationalisation.
1/4/1948. Britain nationalised the electricity industry.
1/12/1947, Samuel Courtauld, silk and nylon manufacturer, and patron of the arts, died in London.
27/11/1947. Austrian banks were nationalised.
8/5/1947. Death of the American department store founder, Henry Gordon Selfridge.
1/3/1947. The International Monetary Fund began operating.
1/1/1947. Britain’s coal industry was nationalised under the Coal industry Nationalisation Act, 1946. The National Coal Board (NCB) was set up, to control 1,647 mines, 100,000 miners homes and over a million acres of land. The NCB was chaired by Lord Hyndley. Cable and Wireless was also nationalised this day.
27/5/1946, The Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an organisation first proposed at the Bretton Woods Conference and constituted in 1945, began operations.
1/3/1946, The Bank of England was nationalised by Act of Parliament.
27/12/1945. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commonly known as the ‘World Bank’, was established. The Bank began operations, officially, in June 1946 at its headquarters at Washington, DC. The IMF was also established this day.
23/10/1942, Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, was born.
1/1/1939, Hewlett-Packard was founded in Palo Alto, California, by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.
19/10/1933, The 1,000th Boots chemist opened, at Galashiels, Scotland. By 1939 the chain operated 1,200 stores across the UK.
30/4/1933. The USA came off the Gold Standard to prevent a drain on gold stocks.
25/4/1933. Canada came off the Gold Standard.
6/3/1933. The growing financial crisis in the USA caused all banks to close for 4 days.
27/12/1932. South Africa came off the Gold Standard.
22/7/1932, The Imperial Economic Conference began at Ottawa.
11/7/1932. The World Bank called for a return to the Gold Standard.
14/3/1932. The US industrialist George Eastman, founder of Kodak, committed suicide.
11/12/1931. Japan abandoned the Gold Standard.
30/11/1931. EM was formed by the merger of His Master’s Voice and Columbia.
25/10/1931. France and the USA agreed to retain the Gold Standard.
28/9/1931. Denmark abandoned the Gold Standard. Norway, Sweden, and Egypt abandoned it on 27/9/1931.
20/9/1931. The Pound was poised for a fall after Britain announced it was abandoning the Gold Standard because of heavy pressure on the nation’s Gold Reserves. A 30% devaluation took the pound from US$4.86 to about $3.50. Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government took many measures, including spending cuts and cutting unemployment pay, but the economic crisis sweeping the world was too severe.
13/6/1931. Jesse Boot, who founded Boots the Chemist, died aged 81 in Millbrook, Jersey. He was created Baron Trent in 1929.
30/8/1930, Warren Buffett, US investor and philanthropist, was born.
20/8/1930, The Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa ended.
20/5/1930. The Bank for International Settlements was set up in Basle, Switzerland. It had two purposes; to handle the payment of reparations by Germany after World War One, and to establish an institution for central-bank co-operation.
13/11/1929, The Bank for International Settlements was founded.
1927, In the UK, the Moneylenders Act stipulated that all moneylenders must have a licence costing £15 and must not charge more than 48% per year. However these requirements were often ignored.
2/11/1926. Imperial Chemical Industries, ICI, was formed, from the merger of four companies; Brunner Mond, Nobel Industries, United Alkali and British Dyestuffs.
28/4/1925. Britain returned to the Gold Standard. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill, told the House of Commons he will not renew the Act of 1919 which suspended the Standard. Symbolically, this measure signalled a return to pre-War stability and a Victorian era in which Britain was pre-eminent. However Cambridge economist John Maynard Keynes warned that the USA was not actually adhering to a Gold Standard; it was manipulating the price of gold, at great expense, to ensure it stayed level with the US Dollar. For Britain to return to the Standard meant subjugating UK economic policy to that of the USA.
29/12/1924, John D Rockefeller donated US$ 1 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
8/8/1919, F W (Frank Winfield) Woolworth, US merchant and founder of Woolworth stores in 1879, died.
12/12/1914 The New York Stock Exchange reopened, for the first time since World war One began. It was hoped to raise money for the war effort, but stock values plummeted.
1913, Britain had seen major concentration in its banking sector, with the number of retail banks falling from a peak of 755 in 1809 to just 17 in 1913.
1/1/1912. The British Post Office took over the National Telephone Company, for the sum of £12,515,264.
8/6/1911, The Birkbeck Bank, London, crashed.
1909, The first Woolworths store in the UK opened, in Liverpool; Selfridges opened in London, the first department store in Britain.
15/12/1909, The first Radisson Hotel was opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 16 story building was constructed by heiress Edna Dickerson and had 425 rooms. By 2009, there were 420 Radisson hotels worldwide.
1907, The Swiss National Bank was founded.
1907, Henry Deterding founded the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company.
29/5/1902. The London School of Economics and Political Sciences was opened by Lord Rosebery.
7/4/1902. The Texas Oil Company, or Texaco, was founded.
25/2/1902. In the USA, Herbert Cecil Booth founded the Vacuum Cleaner Company Ltd.
23/2/1901, The United States Steel Corporation was founded. The US iron and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie (1835-1918) sold the Carnegie Steel Corporation to the US Steel Corporation for the unprecedented sum of US$ 447 million. Carnegie then made several philanthropic donations; beneficiaries included US and Scottish universities.
5/2/1901. The world’s first billion-dollar business deal. J Pierpont Morgan bought a billion dollars worth of mines and steel mills.
14/3/1900. The US Dollar went on the Gold Standard, under President McKinley.
8/10/1897, In America, the Dow Jones company was set up by the financial journalist Charles Henry Dow, 46. He took the price of 12 stocks and averaged their price to create the Dow Jones Index.
1896, Barclays Bank was founded.
28/9/1894, The first Marks and Spencer store opened, as a Penny Bazaar at Cheetham Hill, Manchester.
30/6/1893, Anthony Drexel, US banker, died (born 13/9/1826).
6/8/1891. The first traveller’s cheque, devised by American Express, was cashed.
23/9/1889, The Nintendo Company was founded, as a playing card company.
8/7/1889, The Wall Street Journal was first published.
14/7/1888. Businessman Jesse L Lippincott founded the world’s first record company, the North American Phonograph Company, in Pennsylvania.
7/5/1888. George Eastman, a former bank clerk aged 34 (see 12/7/1854), founded the Kodak photographic company. He chose the name Kodak because he thought it would be easy to remember.
15/8/1885, Sir Montague Burton, owner of a multiple chain of clothes shops, was born to Jewish parents in Lithuania.
1884, The first Marks and Spencer’s outlet opened, in Kirkgate Market, Leeds.
1884, Lloyds Bank was founded.
1883, The first Boots chemist opened, in Nottingham, the home town of its founder, Jesse Boot, the son of a Wesleyan herbalist.
1882, The Bank of Japan was founded.
22/2/1879, F W Woolworth opened the first Woolworth 5 and 10 cent variety store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. An earlier Woolworths 5 cent store in Utica, New York, had failed.
1/8/1877. In Boston, USA, The Bell Telephone Company was formed, headed by Alexander Graham Bell.
4/1/1877. Cornelius Vanderbilt, who rose from poor agrarian roots to amass a US$100million fortune in shipping and railways, died aged 83. He had started a ferry service to Staten Island at age 16 and by 30 he controlled almost all the Hudson shipping business, by undercutting his competitors.
1875, The German Reichsbank was founded.
10/1/1870. John D Rockefeller and his brother William founded the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, later known as Esso.
24/9/1869, An American financial disaster, ‘Black Friday’, occurred when a shrewd and unscrupulous investor, Jay Gould, attempted to corner the gold market.
11/1/1864, Harry Gordon Selfridge, American retailer, was born in Ripon, Wisconsin.
16/9/1861. The Post Office Savings Bank was instituted in Britain.
13/4/1852. Frank Winfield Woolworth, the American chain store pioneer, was born in Rodman, Jefferson County, New York State.
19/9/1851, William Lever, soap maker and philanthropist, later Lord Leverhulme, was born in Bolton. He was the son of a grocer.
1849, The Pfizer pharmaceuticals company was established when Charles Pfizer and his cousin Charles Erhart set up a small chemical company in Wiliamsburg, a then-rural part of Brooklyn.
1847, The Woolwich Building Society was founded.
21/12/1844. A group of unemployed workers in the mill-town of Rochdale, Lancashire, formed the first Co-operative shop in Toad (T’owd) Lane. They called themselves the Rochdale Pioneers, and soon had 50 members. Each member received a dividend, or share, of the shop’s profits. It cost one shilling to join.
1836, The Birmingham and Midland Bank (later Midland, then HSBC) was founded.
31/8/1835, The Great Western Railway Act of Incorporation was passed.
1834, The National Provincial Bank (later National Westminster) was founded.
1833, The London and Westminster Bank (later National Westminster) was founded.
1832, Kendals department store, Manchester, was established.
13/9/1826, Anthony Drexel, US banker, was born (died 30/6/1893).
22/4/1823, The Baltic Exchange, London, was established, as the Baltic Club.
24/2/1822, Thomas Coutts, founder of Coutts bank, died (born 7/9/1735).
13/12/1816, Ernst Werner von Siemens, founder of the electrical engineering giant Siemens in 1847, was born.
1813, Harvey Nichols department store, London, was established.
15/2/1812, Charles Tiffany, founder of the eponymous US jewellery shop chain, was born.
15/3/1811. The Austrian state was bankrupt, due to inflation caused by soaring military expenditure.
1810, Heals department store, London, was established.
18/1/1800. The Banque De France was established, under Napoleon Bonaparte, to finance the war.
17/5/1792, 24 merchants met in Wall Street, New York, to set up the New York Stock Exchange.
1778, Debenhams department store, London, was established.
1/8/1778. The first savings bank opened, in Hamburg.
5/12/1766, Christies auctioneers held their first sale.
25/12/1762, Barings Bank was founded in London, UK.
23/2/1743, Meyer Rothschild, founder of the banking dynasty, was born in Germany.
7/9/1735, Thomas Coutts, founder of Coutts bank, was born (died 24/2/1822).
3/2/1730, The London Daily Advertiser published the first ever Stock Exchange quotations.
4/10/1713, Sir Francis Child, English banker, died (born 1642).
1710, The Sun Insurance Office was founded; it specialised in fire insurance.
27/7/1694. The Bank of England was founded, by Montagu, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with government backing. Its remit was to carry out all the monetary business of the government and to obtain interest on the government’s money.
1/11/1693, The Bank of Scotland was founded.
3/12/1591. The earliest recorded fire insurance policy. 101 persons, mainly brewers, agreed to pay out a maximum of 10 thalers to any fellow member whose property was damaged by fire.
18/6/1583. The first life insurance policy was sold in London. William Gibbons took out a policy whereby his relatives would be paid £383 if he died within 12 months of the policy date; the policy was underwritten by 16 individuals. Gibbons did indeed die in May 1584, and Richard Martin then disputed the policy and refused to pay out. The courts decided he had to pay. Many more such life policies were issued but it was not until 1923 that the Life Insurance Companies Act was passed.
21/11/1579, Sir Thomas Gresham, who founded the Royal Exchange, died.
23/1/1571. The Royal Exchange, founded by financier Sir Thomas Gresham, was opened by Queen Elizabeth I as a bankers meeting house. Its foundation stone was laid on 7/6/1566.
7/6/1566, Sir Thomas Gresham laid the foundation stone of the first Royal Exchange in London.
552, Byzantine Emperor Justinian sent missionaries to China; their real purpose was to smuggle silkworms back to Europe. In 553 the silk industry became a State Monopoly in Byzantium.