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AMALGAMATIONS                      77

trading world of competition on the part of the new
chartered institution only arose owing to its unfor-
tunate name, which was given to it in order to allay
the apprehensions of the banks which had been
provoked by the title originally designed for it,
namely, the British Trade Bank. There seems no
reason why this Company should not do good work
for British trade without treading on the toes of
anybody. Although naturally its activities cannot
be developed on any substantial scale until the war
is over, its Chairman assured the shareholders at
the end of January that its preliminary spadework
was being carefully attended to.

After this small storm in a teacup had died down
those interested in our banking efficiency were
again excited by the rapid progress made by the
process of amalgamation among our great banks,
which began to show acute activity again in the
last months of 1917. The suddenly announced
amalgamation of the London and South-Western
and London and Provincial Banks led to a whole
host of rumours as to other amalgamations which
were to follow; and though most of these proved
to be untrue a fresh sensation was aroused when
the union was announced of the National Provincial
Bank of England and the Union of London and
Smith's Bank. All the old arguments were heard
again on the subject of the objections, from the
point of view of industry in the provinces, to the
formation of great banking institutions, with enor-
mous figures on both sides of the balance-sheet,
working from London, often, it was alleged, with