Kleinwort Benson

Coordinates: 51°30′41″N 0°5′0″W / 51.51139°N 0.08333°W / 51.51139; -0.08333

Kleinwort Benson
Industry Financial Services
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Products Financial Services for High Net Worth Individuals and Corporate Clients
Owner Société Générale
Website www.kleinwortbenson.com

Kleinwort Benson Lonsdale Ltd. is a leading private bank that offers a wide range of financial services to private and corporate clients from offices throughout the United Kingdom and Channel Islands. The bank has its headquarters on St George Street in Mayfair in London's West End and has offices in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and South Africa.


The earliest known Kleinwort to go into banking was 24-year-old Heinrich Kleinwort, a grandfather of Sir Alexander Drake Kleinwort, 1st Baronet. In 1786, Heinrich set up a partnership with Otto Mueller in Holstein to finance trade with England. In the very same year, Robert Benson joined with William Rathbone IV of the existing house of William Rathbone & Co. to form Rathbone & Benson, a Liverpool business trading mainly with America. Over the course of the 19th century, the Benson family grew its wealth through railway finance in Britain, Europe and America. The Kleinworts established a successful trading business in Cuba, profiting from the expansion of the H. Upmann and Sons cigar business.

Kleinworts also helped finance Francisco Franco's coup d'etat in Spain by approving a credit of 800,000 pounds at 4% interest on 15 Septiembre 1937. A month later Kleinworts agreed another loan of 1,500,000 pounds sterling at 3%.

The Kleinworts and the Bensons merged their firms in 1961 to form Kleinwort Benson. Kleinwort Benson then became one of the first merchant banks to establish itself in the Channel Islands, having set up offices in Jersey in 1962 and Guernsey in 1963.

Over the course of the 1960s the City saw a huge increase in the volume of mergers and acquisitions and by the end of the decade, Kleinwort Benson was participating in some of the biggest deals on the London market.

In the 1980s, Kleinwort Benson was a pioneer in privatisation. It was the lead adviser on the flotation of British Telecom which, at the time, was the largest public offering ever seen. Kleinwort Benson subsequently acted in the privatisation offerings of Enterprise Oil, Associated British Ports, British Gas and the electricity supply industry in England and Wales. In the 1990s and 2000s, Kleinwort Benson’s expertise was in demand around the world. It advised on privatisations in more than 50 countries and acted as bookrunner and global coordinator for some of the largest and most complex global equity offerings and privatisations throughout Europe. The bank acted as global manager and adviser to the Italian government on the IPO of Enel and advised France Telecom on their IPO of Pages Jaunes. In 1995, Kleinwort Benson was acquired by Dresdner Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort became the investment banking arm of Dresdner Bank. Dresdner became part of Commerzbank in 2009.


In October 2009, Commerzbank unloaded the unwanted Kleinwort Benson and RHJ International became the new owners.

In June 2016, Société Générale acquired Kleinwort Benson.


Today Kleinwort Benson focuses on private banking, providing a comprehensive range of services to private clients, business owners and entrepreneurs, managing liquid and illiquid assets including a provision of corporate advice and private office capabilities.

Privatisations, flotations, and other major deals

In November 2011 Saffron Tax announced the acquisition of the private client tax compliance business from Kleinwort Benson.

In December 2012 London-based independent advice firm SK Financial bought about 1,000 clients from Kleinwort Benson after purchasing a book of clients that the it felt it could no longer support profitably after the implementation of the Retail Distribution Review.[1][2]


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