In Europe, several of the world’s largest and most renowned banks have been successful in providing a range of financial products and services to individuals, corporations, and governments. In this article, Regulated United Europe employees would like to highlight which European banks are the largest on the continent in 2023, what their total assets, their history, and impact on the global financial system. Below is a description of the top 5 banks in Europe by the volume of total assets.
Largest European banks
British financial institution HSBC Holdings PLC is the largest bank in Europe in terms of assets, with a total balance sheet of 2.6 trillion euros. HSBC is a British multinational bank and financial services company operating in over 60 countries. Its full name is HSBC Holdings PLC. The bank offers a wide range of services including commercial and investment banking, asset management.
HSBC was founded in 1865 in Hong Kong by a Scottish man named Thomas Sutherland. The Bank played a vital role in facilitating trade between Europe and Asia and soon became one of the world’s largest banks. In the early twentieth century, this banking structure expanded its operations to Europe and North America. In the 1960s and 1970s, HSBC became one of the first banks to offer electronic banking services.
Today, HSBC is known for its global presence and expertise in international banking. It is a major player in the Asian market, but its operations in Europe, America, and the Middle East are also significant. HSBC is committed to sustainable development and has become a leader in green finance, investing in renewable energy and supporting sustainable business practices.
2. BNP Paribas
The second-largest bank in Europe is the French multinational banking institution BNP Paribas, with a total asset of about €2.5 trillion as of the end of 2022. BNP Paribas is one of the largest banks in the world and operates in 72 countries, focusing on retail banking, corporate banking and investment banking.
BNP Paribas was formed in 2000 by the merger of Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) and Paribas. BNP was founded in 1966 and operated retail banking, while Paribas operated it in 1872. Its main business was banking investment. Today, BNP Paribas is the market leader in Europe with a strong presence in France, Italy and Belgium, North Africa and the Middle East.
BNP Paribas is committed to sustainable financing. The Entity has made significant investments in renewable energy and other environmentally sound projects.
The Bank has also become a leader in social finance in Europe, investing in projects that benefit communities and promote social integration.
3. Crédit Agricole Group
The third-largest bank in Europe at the beginning of 2023 – French
Crédit Agricole Group, a multinational bank with a total asset of about €2.35 trillion. Crédit Agricole is a cooperative banking institution operating within a decentralized network of regional banks. The bank provides a range of financial services, including retail and corporate banking, as well as asset management.
Crédit Agricole was founded in 1894 as a cooperative bank providing financial services to farmers in rural France. Today, it has become one of the world’s largest banks and operates in more than 50 countries. Crédit Agricole has become a leader in sustainable financing and has invested heavily in renewable energy, green bonds and other environmentally friendly projects.
4. Barclays PLC
Barclays PLC is a multinational banking and financial services company headquartered in London. It is one of the largest banks in the world, with operations in more than 40 countries. It employs approximately 83,500 employees. Total assets of Barclays PLC at the end of 2022 amounted to 1.65 trillion euros.
Barclays offers a range of financial products and services, including:
- banking services for individuals and legal entities;
- investment banking services;
- asset management.
The company is also present in the digital banking sector through its Barclays Digital Banking division.
Barclays was founded in 1690 and has a long history of mergers and acquisitions. In recent years, the company has faced a number of litigation, including allegations of currency manipulation and involvement in the Libor scandal, but the bank has taken steps to address these concerns and improve its reputation.
5. Banco Santander
The fifth-largest bank in Europe is Banco Santander, a Spanish multinational banking institution with a total asset of around €1.6 trillion as of the end of 2022. Banco Santander operates in 10 major markets, including the UK, Spain and Brazil, and provides a range of standard financial services.
Banco Santander was founded in 1857 in the Spanish town of Santander and initially focused on providing commercial banking services to the local community. Today, the bank has expanded its operations around the world and has become a major player in the European market. In addition, Banco Santander has a significant presence in Latin America, being one of the largest banks in the region.
The Bank was committed to sustainable development and had invested heavily in renewable energy and other green projects. It also aims to promote financial inclusion and develops programmes to help low-income people access financial services.
The Situation in Europe’s Largest Banks in 2023
Now, Europe’s five largest banks are under new pressure. They are asked to stop financing the fossil fuel industry (oil, natural gas and hard coal) as part of a campaign organized by investors who control $1.5 trillion.
Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, and Société Générale face severe criticism of their investments in fossil fuels.
According to a study published by the ShareAction Group, these banks were the largest lenders to Europe’s leading oil and gas companies since HSBC between 2016 and 2021.
Letters have now been sent to each of them from a group of institutional investors urging them to stop direct financing of new oil and gas fields by the end of this year. The letters were written by a group of 30 investors, coordinated by ShareAction, which includes Candriam, La Française Asset Management and Brunel Pension Partnership.
Renewed investor pressure on European banks is triggered by the announcement by NatWest (Scotland) on February 9 that it will cease lending based on reserves to new customers funding oil and gas exploration and production, although it will continue to provide this type of funding to existing clients over the next three years.
In the letter, investors expressed concern that new oil and gas fields could jeopardize the global path to zero CO2 yield and run counter to banks’ own objectives.
A similar investor campaign against HSBC led Europe’s largest bank and its chief financier of major oil and gas companies to announce in December 2022, that they will no longer directly fund new oil and gas fields after months of ongoing pressure from shareholder activists coordinated by ShareAction.
In their last letter, investors warned Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and Société Générale that their activities were holding back the revolution in renewable energy in Europe.
Europe’s banks are on Wall Street in terms of bond trading For the fifth consecutive quarter, Europe’s banks are on par with Wall Street’s debt-trading rivals, increasing their earnings by almost 30%.
Six of Europe’s leading investment banks, especially Barclays Plc and Deutsche Bank AG, are expected to show an average 29% increase in bond and currency transactions over the last quarter of 2022. This figure is slightly higher than the pool of revenues in US banks, according to analysts from Bloomberg.
Average values do not include Credit Suisse Group AG, which is expected to demonstrate a significant decline in trading revenue as it folds as part of a broader reorganization.
Europe’s largest banks see the benefits of rapid interest rate hikes by central banks in their fight against inflation, which extends to both bond trading and the traditional savings and credit business. For fixed-income European traders, 2022 should have given some breathing space, or perhaps even a turning point, after years of losing market share to larger American competitors.
Europe is home to some of the world’s largest and most prominent banks, which play a crucial role in the global financial system. These banks operate in many countries and provide a range of financial products and services to individuals, corporations, and governments. Although each has its own unique history, operations and influence, they are all committed to sustainable development, financial inclusion and responsible banking practices. As the financial industry continues to grow, these banks will undoubtedly play a central role in shaping the future of the world economy.
The rating of the largest banks in Europe helps potential customers to determine which structure to turn for banking services. Regulated United Europe offers comprehensive services for opening bank accounts in Europe for both personal and corporate use. Contact our banking specialist and get a free initial consultation today.
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