Before 1889, the banks in Spoleto were Cassa di Risparmio, Banca Laurenti & C., Banco Ferretti, Banco Fratellini and Banco Poli1. Around 1890, the difficulties faced by Banca Laurenti & C. had repercussions on the other banks, by involving them and creating difficulties with negative effects on the entire society of the town. The end of banks that, even though small, had fuelled the productive activities of Spoleto and of the near Terni was a mortal blow for the economy: even the hope in a future recovery seemed inhibited, and mistrust towards the banking system spread. After a useless attempt to open a branch of Banco di Perugia, Giulio Cesari, teacher of law and economics at the Istituto Tecnico “G. Spagna” in Spoleto, came up with the idea of a “Banca Popolare Cooperativa” (Cooperative Bank), where the resources of all citizens – even modest – could flow together avoiding external interests2. On 28 April 1895, through a notarial act by notary public Domenico Arcangeli, written and registered by the lawyer Mr Sinibaldi, Banca popolare cooperativa di Spoleto was established3: forty-seven shareholders were present, who subscribed 143 shares of thirty lire, payable in fifteen monthly instalments of 2 lire each, for a total capital to be deposited of 4,290 lire4. Giulio Cesari became the Chief Executive, a post he kept until 1951. In 1896, by reading to the shareholders the annual report of the Board of Directors at the end of the first year of activity, he underlined the constant increase in shareholders even if the profit was of only 851 lire.
In the first twenty years of activity, the managers avoided “operations out of proportion to the potential” of the bank, by limiting themselves to small operations, especially with regard to farming and trade5, which corresponded to the objective of the institution, that is to say promoting and supporting the process of building farmers, craftsmen and traders’ savings. Through such a management, the trust deposits increased every year, going from 5,607 lire in 1895 to 12,333,299 in 1919, thus allowing the managers to contrast different investment techniques: in this way, the total volume of debt certificates increased from 9,306 to 12,448,139 lire; that of advances on the deposit of valuables from 188 to 88,041 lire, and that of active bank accounts from 1,059 to 1,507,503 lire. The activity of investment and collection was realised through the discount of bills of exchange and working papers, loans to shareholders, advances to non-shareholders against surety of public securities, the opening of bank accounts with promissory note guaranty and deposits from shareholders to third parties, the emission of bank cheques payable by all the main offices and branches of the Bank of Italy, the acceptance of bills to be cashed by any financial centre of the Italian kingdom and abroad, and the payment of six-month interests on Italian registered certificates of annuity6. In 1897, the managers made the territory of Spoleto bankable, thus obtaining, by means of a personal warranty of 20,000 lire, the right to represent locally the Bank of Italy and the following year, against the deposit of Italian certificates of annuity with a 5% interest rate for a total of 1,000 lire, that of Banco di Napoli.
In 1900, the Bank allowed the discount on transfers of Cassa di Prestiti e Risparmi di Cascia; in July 1903, it opened a transfer account with Banca Popolare Cooperativa di Norcia and in 1903 an account with Banca Cooperativa di Terni, with Banca di Perugia and with Cassa di Risparmio di Spoleto. In 1903, the bank started the emission of registered securities of Banco di Napoli, by lending a bail of 10,000 lire of State annuity, deposited in the coffers of the Bank itself. In 1904, it granted the opening of a credit in favour of the municipality of Spoleto, a promissory note to Consorzio (syndicate) del Maraggiolo, and in 1905 it appointed a commission for the update of some statutory rules with the aim of simplifying the functioning of its activity. In 1906, the possibility of a merger of Banca Commerciale with Banca di Perugia, which would have determined the suppression of some agencies, offered Banca di Spoleto the chance of expanding its sphere of influence, objective realised in 1907 with the opening of a branch in Bevagna, then in 1908 with the opening of a branch in Trevi and in Arrone, in 1911 in Leonessa, in 1913 in Cascia, and in 1919 in Cerreto and Sellano7.
The outbreak of World War One had effects on the banks, of course. The difficulties were highlighted in the Board of Directors’ report of 1916, in which it was made reference to some earthquakes that “ravaged Italy”. The greatest difficulties came from the lack of possibility to invest, as a consequence of the economic crisis, even though in these years there was a remarkable increase in the number of associates, who went from 254 in 1895 to 1,226 in 1919, and then remained pretty much unchanged between 1920 and 1944. In the early 1920s, the Bank experienced a noteworthy rise in deposits, in line with the expansive trend of the local economy after the crisis of the years following the end of WW1, followed between 1924 and 1929 by a weak development of their collection caused by the crisis of stabilisation due to the “Quota 90” (fixed exchange rate of the lira against the pound sterling, TN) and the world exchange rate. In the following years, the Bank supported all the activities of small and medium enterprises, factory farms, and businesses thanks to its deep knowledge of the local resources and needs. Moreover, it granted loans to the municipalities of Spoleto, Gualdo Cattaneo, Cascia, Arrone, Acquasparta, Norcia, Preci, Montefalco, Monteleone di Spoleto, Sellano, Scheggino and Leonessa for the expenses of construction of new waterworks, drinkable water pipelines and widened electrical systems8. In 1936, the Bank obtained the authorisation to perform the operations of working capital credit for farms, thus continuing to carry out its consistent work of support to the needs of agriculture. In 1941, it participated in the increase in capital of Istituto Centrale delle Banche Popolari Italiane, an institute whose aim was that of strengthening such banks, by undertaking, in 1943, the service of emission of bank cheques, in the interest and for the reputation of the category of cooperative banks. In order to take better care of the needs of the population, to fight usury, and to grant costumers the best facilities compatibles with the safety of operations, the Bank carried out a policy of further territorial expansion: the branches of Monteleone di Spoleto, Giano dell’Umbria and Gualdo Cattaneo (1920), Preci (1921), Stroncone (1922), Norcia (1923) and Amelia (1925) were opened. In the early 1920s, the façade of the Bank in piazza Pianciani was built; the building, bought entirely in 1909, was inaugurated after the renovation on 28 March 1925. Approved by the Ispettorato per la Difesa del Risparmio e per l’esercizio del credito (Inspectorate for the Defence of Savings and Credit Activity), and recognised by the Comitato dei Ministri (Committee of Ministers), on 16 June 1940, the extraordinary meeting of shareholders approved the new Statute9, widened on the basis of the standard statutes for cooperative banks.
In the 1940s, a new engagement towards shareholders, customers and in general all the members of the local context was added to the activities of the bank: firstly, the yearly donation of a share of profit to the creation of a fund in order to support important actions of public charity (such as the Committee of assistance to war orphans, the Association of disabled ex-servicemen, the working-class associations, the School of popular culture, the School houses, the Kindergartens, the “Ricreatorio popolare e cattolico” (popular and catholic leisure facility, TN), the “Legione dei giovani esploratori” (legion of young explorers), the Civil charity institutes, the municipal summer camps); secondly, the contribution to the capital of the new bank for the work of Italians abroad and the subscription of 500,000 lire in favour of the Prestito Littorio (a public loan, TN) that was tightly connected to the policy of revaluation of the Italian currency; thirdly, the participation in the expense for the monument in honour of the citizens who lost their lives defending the homeland, and in the renovation works of the church of San Damiano and the new hospital; fourthly, the creation, with 400,000 lire, of a special fund designed to support the construction of a block of workman’s houses.
Immediately after WW2, the Bank felt the need to have a larger territorial base with a greater possibility of action, as well as the need to adjust quickly to the demands expressed by the new economic situation. From a financial point of view, the Bank, that had a net capital of 8,193,200 lire in 1945, reached the level of 253,150,097 lire in 1960. On 15 August 1951, after fifty-six years of nonstop and intense activity, Professor Giulio Cesari ended his managerial role, yet keeping the post of vice-president until February 1960. In the first months of 1954, the Bank underwent recurrent inspections ordered by supervisory bodies and, as it can be read in the report by the Board of Directors, a “solid capital stock” emerged. A decisive step outside its first and immediate area of influence was taken by the Bank in 1950 through the institution of a branch in Perugia, followed by the ones in Assisi, Castiglione del Lago and San Terenziano. In 1953, the premises for the branch of Bevagna were bought and the new branch in Norcia was built. The year after, Palazzo Ajò was bought to host the branch of Perugia, and it was inaugurated on 22 June 1958. In 1954, the inter-regional union between the banks of Umbria and Tuscany was constituted with the aim of examining common problems and enhancing the activity of the banks. On 27 March 1949, the Bank, founded with the name of “Banca Popolare Cooperativa di Spoleto”, took the new one of “Banca Popolare di Spoleto – Cooperativa a responsabilità limitata” (Cooperative Bank of Spoleto – Ltd).
In this way, the Bank arrived to 1960, the year of the economic miracle for the volume of investments and the prodigious development of some sectors of production. With an official act on 30 July 1992, Banca Popolare di Spoleto Società Cooperativa a responsabilità limitata, by taking the opportunity offered by the law “Legge Amato”, hived itself off into Banca Popolare di Spoleto S.p.A. (Ltd) and Spoleto Credito e Servizi Società Cooperativa. The latter became the main shareholder of BPS S.p.A., which succeeded in the rights and legal duties previously entitled to Banca Popolare di Spoleto Società Cooperativa. Since September 1996, Banca Popolare di Spoleto S.p.A. is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, Borsa Valori di Milano (http://www.borsaitaliana.it/homepage/homepage.en.htm). In July 1998, a strategic trade agreement was signed in order to establish relations of participation and collaboration with Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (which bought 25% of the shares of Banca Popolare di Spoleto S.p.A.) and with the banking group it belongs to, in order to offer a broad range of products and services to their customers.
Today, there are 107 branches open to the public, distributed in 15 provinces (Perugia, Terni, Rieti, Roma, Latina, Viterbo, Siena, Arezzo, L’Aquila, Teramo, Ascoli Piceno, Macerata, Fermo, Ancona, Milano), while the customer base reached, at the date of 30 September 2010, 131,049 units and a total collection of 3,778 million euros.
The Board of Directors, composed of fourteen members, was appointed by the Assembly of Shareholders on 29 April 2010 and it will be on duty until the approval of the balance sheet for the financial year ending 31 December 2012.
The Assembly itself has appointed the three effective members and the two deputy members of the Board of Statutory Auditors.
President of the Board of Directors: Giovannino Antonini
President of the Board of Statutory Auditors: Michele Fesani
Chief Executive Officer: Alfredo Pallini
Vice Chief Executive Officer: Mauro Conticini
1See F. Trevisan, Gli istituti di credito di interesse locale in Umbria, in Gli archivi degli istituti e delle aziende di credito e le fonti d’archivio per la storia delle banche, Atti del Convegno, Roma, 14-17 Novembre 1989, Ufficio centrale per i beni archivistici, Roma, 1995: 689-690.
2See B. Conti, La Banca popolare di Spoleto dalla fondazione al 1929, Tesi di Laurea a.a. 1971/72 (Degree Thesis, academic year 1971/72)
3The bank was going to be headquartered in four rooms on the second floor of Palazzo Pianciani for the price of 30 lire a month.
4The members of the board were: president: Giuseppe Bachilli; advisers: Amico Rossi, Oliviero Sansi (baron), Geri Morelli De’ Pazzi (earl), Emilio Toni (earl), Roberto Silvestri (engineer), Francesco Antonelli (lawyer), Anchise Pompei (accountant), and Ulisse Cardelli (lawyer); auditors: Ettore Bottelli, Attilio Marini, Enrico Antonelli; deputy auditors: Francesco Bocchini and Pompeo Bresadola (engineer); arbitrators: Luigi Santini, Professor Francesco Pennacchietti, Andrea Pila (earl). See Spoleto. 1895-1995. Una banca, una città, un territorio, edited by G. Calzoni and A. C. Rossi, Banca Popolare di Spoleto, 1995: 77-78.
5“Giovane Umbria” 6 may 1900.
6See Spoleto 1895-1995. Una banca, una città, un territorio, edited by G. Calzoni and A. C. Rossi, cit. page 81.
7See B. Conti, La Banca popolare di Spoleto dalla fondazione al 1929.
8See Spoleto 1895-1995. Una banca, una città, un territorio, edited by G. Calzoni and A. C. Rossi, cit. page 88.
9The new statute simplified the functioning of the company, and it increased to 10 the number of members of the Board of Directors, it created the post of vice-president, and it fixed the retribution of managers at 3% of the yearly profit. The Statute was modified in 1948.
Up-to-date as of 1 December 2010
Link: (only in Italian) www.bpspoleto.it
Editors: Banca Popolare di Spoleto S.p.A. and Maurizio Ridolfi