Barings Bank (1762 – 1995) was the oldest merchant bank in London until its collapse in 1995 after one of the bank’s employees, Nick Leeson, lost £827 million due to speculative investing, primarily in futures contracts, at the bank’s Singapore office.
Barings Bank was founded in London in 1762 as John & Francis Baring Co. by Francis Baring, with his older brother John as a mostly silent partner.
In 1800 John retired and the company was reorganised as Francis Baring & Co. Francis’ new partners were his eldest son Thomas and son-in-law Charles Wall. In 1803 Francis began to withdraw from active management, bringing in Thomas’ younger brothers Alexander and Henry to become partners in 1804. The new partnership was called Baring Brothers & Co. The business became a limited company in 1891.
Following the collapse of the bank in 1995, it was purchased by ING Bank for the nominal sum of £1. ING assumed all of Barings’ liabilities, forming the subsidiary ING Barings. With the failure of Barings, N. M. Rothschild & Sons is the only name remaining from the glory days of 19th century British merchant banking.
The Bank’s full name and initials only overprints are known on the 1d Inland Revenue (SG F19) issue. Rather more easier to find are the initals only overprints on the Foreign Bill stamps of King Edward VII and King George V.