By Rodney Wilson (auth.)
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Additional resources for Banking and Finance in the Arab Middle East
It was to serve this community that the Ottoman Bank established its Cairo office in 1887, over twenty years after its first branch in Alexandria had been opened, and fifteen years after the founding of its Port Said branch. 8 A NATIONAL BANK OF EGYPT? After 1856, as already mentioned, much of Egyptian government finance was raised through the main Cairo-based, but British-owned Emergence of Modern Banking 23 financial institution, the Egyptian Bank, rather than through the Alexandria office of the Ottoman Bank.
A further five years was to elapse, however, before another largely French-inspired institution started business in Cairo, Credit Foncier Egyptien, but this new locally incorporated institution functioned as a mortgage or land bank, rather than specialising in ordinary commercial banking transactions and the finance of trade. Hitherto in Egypt most of the moneylending to landlords had been in the hands of the traditional moneylenders who were frequently Greek rather than local Muslims, even at village level.
From the start however the National Bank had close relations with the Egyptian authorities in any case, as its first Governor was Sir Elwin Palmer, who was formerly Financial Adviser to the Cairo government. 11 Although power was in theory exercised from the bank's Cairo head office, a committee of directors was set up in London, which had to approve all loans of LElOO,OOO or over, any augmentation of capital, changes to the bank's statutes, and the annual dividend. The most powerful director was Sir Ernest Cassel, whose shareholding amounted to LE50,000, representing half of the bank's initial capital.