Digitised Collections: The Baring Prospectuses
The Baring Archive's collection of prospectuses has now been digitised. The collection documents over 300 transactions involving Barings and spans more than 100 years of the firm's history.
Map issued with the London Electric Railway Co. Ltd. prospectus (1930)
From the mid-nineteenth century, the business of issuing securities for governments and companies greatly increased. As one of London's leading houses, Barings was involved in some of the most significant transactions of the day. Domestic clients included a number of companies who remain household names - Guinness, Goodyear, Whitbread and W H Smith, to name but a few. Sovereign issuers included Argentina, Canada and Japan, all of whom demanded funds for public works. During the 1800s, the booming railway industry provided Barings with the majority of its overseas corporate clients. Major feats of engineering, including the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Trans-Caucasian Railroad received capital from Barings transactions.
The Baring prospectuses provide a remarkably comprehensive record of the securities transactions handled by the firm between 1850 and 1966. Issues of securities were generally preceded by the publication of a prospectus. With a view to attracting investment, prospectuses would advertise the size and price of a transaction and often, publicise the issuer's purpose in raising new funds (a railway company, for example, would sometimes enclose a map of their proposed route). Certain facts regarding the issuer would also be stated; usually, the company's registered address and a list of its directors. As a result, these documents offer a wealth of information regarding leading British and foreign firms, together with the activities of the banking houses that helped them to flourish.