FirstRand National Bank
FNB is the oldest bank in South Africa, and can be traced back to the Eastern Province Bank formed in Grahamstown in 1838. Today, FNB trades as a division of FirstRand Bank Limited. When looking at FNB’s history, two things in particular stand out. The first is a story of survival – different circumstances in South Africa have posed many great challenges in our history, all of which FNB has successfully met. This track record provides a strong foundation for our future challenges. The second is a story of people – our history has always been firmly influenced by the needs of the people we serve.
The Acacia tree in our brand logo is a suitable representation of our history. Our roots run deep in South Africa, and we have grown thanks to our commitment to serving the needs of our clients and communities.
A landmark development in FNB’s history took place in 1998 when the financial services interests of Rand Merchant Bank Holdings and Anglo American were merged to form FirstRand Limited. In the process, FNB was delisted from the JSE on 22 May 1998 to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of FirstRand, which was listed on the JSE on 25 May 1998. On 30 June 1999, the banking interests of FirstRand formally merged into a single entity to form FirstRand Bank. FNB, WesBank and RMB now trade as divisions of FirstRand Bank.
First National Bank can trace its origins back to the Eastern Province Bank, which was formed in Grahamstown, South Africa in 1838. By 1874, the bank had four branches – Grahamstown, Middelburg, Cradock and Queenstown.
Due to a recession, the bank was bought out in 1874 by the Oriental Bank Corporation (OBC). However, as a result of financial difficulties being experienced in India, the OBC decided to withdraw from South Africa. The Bank of Africa was subsequently formed in 1879 to take over OBC’s business in South Africa.
During the same period, the government of the Republic of the Transvaal wanted to create a local commercial bank to deal with the financial demands created by the discovery of gold in Barberton and the Witwatersrand. The government thus created a bank with the task of focussing primarily on financial agricultural development through a concession agreement. The Nationale Bank der Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek Beperk (National Bank of the South African Republic Limited) was registered in Pretoria in 1891 and opened its doors for business on 5 April of the same year. After the Anglo-Boer War in 1902, the name of this bank was changed to the National Bank of South Africa Limited.
Due to another recession, the Bank of Africa was bought out by the National Bank in 1912. Another bank, the National Bank of the Orange River Colony, had already been bought out by the same group in 1910. The Natal Bank, which was founded in 1854 to fund the Natal Colony’s sugar industry, also suffered financial difficulties and was added to the list of banks acquired by the National Bank, in 1914. The National Bank was now one of the strongest banks in South Africa.
In 1925 the National Bank merged with the Anglo-Egyptian Bank and the Colonial Bank to form Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas). In 1971 Barclays restructured its operation and its South African operation was renamed Barclays National Bank Limited.
As a result of a disinvestment campaign against South Africa due to its apartheid policies, Barclays was forced to reduce its shareholding and sold its remaining shareholding in the bank in 1986. The bank was renamed “First National Bank of Southern Africa Limited” in 1987 and became a wholly South African owned and controlled entity.