The activity of Italian banks in Egypt represents an almost unexplored field of investigation in economic history. This article is the first to attempt to add to the Italian banking literature in this area. At the same time, it contributes to the multinational banking literature on the characteristics of banks belonging to multinational groups, which are subject to a ‘liability of foreignness’ due to differences between the home country and the host economy. The paper explains the short-lived success of Italian banks, which were able to occupy primary positions in the Egyptian banking sector thanks to an aggressive policy focussed on the cotton market. It then highlights the reasons for the subsequent problems these institutes faced, showing the difficulties of a latecomer and capital-poor country, such as Italy, in carrying out a catching-up process aimed at widening its influence over geographical areas considered strategic in terms of political and commercial penetration.
- Italian banks
- Multinational banking