Brief history of J. F. Costopoulos Bank
J. F. Costopoulos founded the bank that would become present-day Alpha Bank. On 12 February 1916, J. F. Costopoulos, a prominent Kalamata merchant, founded J. F. Costopoulos Bank as a side venture to his textile business. The J. F. Costopoulos Bank logo has the textile business’ year of establishment as the bank’s year of establishment (1879).
The J. F. Costopoulos Bank logo is a detail from a cheque stub.
The commercial firm’s year of establishment appears within a circular border at the centre of the logo, in the phrase: “FONDÉE EN 1879” (French for “Established in 1879”). The bank’s name, also in French, runs along the circular border: “BANQUE J.F. COSTOPULO” (i.e., J. F. Costopoulos Bank).
Geometric and plant motifs surround the circle. These elements are designed in elaborate, impressive detail.
J. F. Costopoulos: a business pioneer
By the mid-1910s, J. F. Costopoulos was already a reputable entrepreneur in the city of Kalamata.
His commercial firm at the city centre had been in business since 1879. During the second decade of the 20th century, business was booming. His banking activities complemented those of the commercial firm.
The idea of a new bank
In 1916 J. F. Costopoulos sensed that the economic circumstances were favourable. Therefore, he decided to launch a new business initiative.
J. F. Costopoulos’ first step in his new business venture was to earn the absolute trust of Dionysios Loverdos, founder and director of Popular Bank, and Andreas Danos, director of Emporiki Bank’s branch on the island of Chios. He then had to tie up the last loose ends before he was able to establish a local bank in the city of Kalamata, in the legal form of a limited partnership.
The establishment of J. F. Costopoulos Bank
The contract to establish the new J. F. Costopoulos Bank was signed on 12 February 1916.
The contracting parties were the 2 general partners J. F. Costopoulos and Andreas Danos, and Dionysios Loverdos as a limited partner representing Popular Bank.
The initial share capital
According to the original contract entered into by the 3 partners, the newly established bank would only operate for 3 years.
The bank’s nominal capital was 400,000 drachmas. J. F. Costopoulos contributed half of the amount. Andreas Danos and Popular Bank each contributed 100,000 drachmas.
Danos was appointed director and, as such, he was the only partner receiving a regular monthly salary. Neither Danos nor Costopoulos were allowed to withdraw any profits before their equity interest reached the threshold of 200,000 and 300,000 drachmas, respectively.
A tentative effort
Initially, the 3 partners saw the bank operation as a tentative effort.
However, the partnership proved extremely fruitful already after its first year. Even after the depreciation of fair installation costs, profits still amounted to 15% of the capital.
Growth and further development
The partnership continued on the same terms in 1917. That year actually proved even more lucrative than the first.
The once tentative effort had clearly grown into an undeniable success. It was also clear that the bank had to grow to accommodate the banking needs of the local society in the city of Kalamata. As a result, it was decided that J. F. Costopoulos Bank would be restructured into an SA.
The new bank’s Articles of Association were signed on 4 March 1918. The new brand name was “Kalamon Bank” (Bank of Kalamata).
More information on J. F. Costopoulos Bank is available in our publications:
- With Wisdom and Vision: ALPHA BANK, 19th – 21st Century, academic advisor: Kostas Kostis. The publication narrates the history of Alpha Bank, from founder J. F. Costopoulos’ first commercial ventures in the 19th century through to the present day. It also includes a wealth of unpublished photographic material, mainly from the Alpha Bank Historical Archives.
Buy the publication With Wisdom and Vision: ALPHA BANK, 19th – 21st Century on the Alpha Bank e-shop.
- The Creators and the Creation of Banking Enterprises in Europe from the 18th to the 20th Century, edited by Kostas Kostis. The volume contains the proceedings of the academic meeting at the Old Fortress in Corfu on 5 and 6 October 2001 with contributions from distinguished economic historians.
Buy the publication The Creators and the Creation of Banking Enterprises in Europe from the 18th to the 20th Century on the Alpha Bank e-shop.