The company was
established in 1842 in Bombay (India) under the name of Bank of Western India. After the headquarters were moved
to London in 1845 the name
was changed into "Oriental Bank Corporation". In the Royal Charter (1851) it was vaguely
mentioned that the company was allowed to operate
everywhere east of Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) and therefore also
in India. In fact, it was chartered
mainly to allow competition with the East India Company monopoly which was unpopular in England at
the time. Of course, the East India Company
tried to oppose to this charter as they had
cherished the monopoly on the trade and banking in India until then.
Expansion followed with branches opening in Chinese
Treaty ports, Hong Kong,
Japan, India, Mauritius and South Africa. The Bank held a dominant position in Eastern Banking for
some years. In the 1860's the company had become a
flourishing undertaking both in India and China.
and it survived the financial crisis of 1865/6.
At the end of the 1870's it suffered much from the
legendary coffee disease in Ceylon, which
devastated the coffee plantations in that area, in which the company had invested so much. (this disaster in
the coffee culture led to
the beginning of the famous tea culture in Ceylon !).
Finally, in 1884 the bank ran into severe difficulties
and had to be reconstituted as the New Oriental
Bank Corporation. With the growth of other banks such as the Hong Kong and Shanghai and the
Chartered Bank the new organisation was never
succesful and it finally closed its doors in 1892.