Birmingham historian Carl Chinn has backed the return of the Midland Bank brand when HSBC shifts operations to Birmingham.
It would be symbolic, with 1,000 jobs being moved to the city by 2018, as Midland Bank was established on Union Street in 1836 before being taken over by HSBC more than a century after.
Professor Chinn said he’d welcome a return, as it reflects a time when Birmingham and Black Country manufacturers changed the world of finance.
He said: “The Midland Bank was founded here in Birmingham by manufacturers who were also involved in banking.
“The key figure was Charles Geach, who was a Cornishman who worked for the Bank of England in Birmingham.
“His life showed the interaction between manufacturing and finance in the 19th century and it in my opinion it is something we need to learn from today.
“Midland Bank is a name you can trust because of its history and integrity.”
Professor Chinn, a noted historian and writer in the city, was speaking after reports claimed HSBC was considering a return for the Midland brand more than 15 years after it appeared consigned to history.
Midland had offered business support and capital backing of leading merchants and manufacturers in the city and was a FTSE100 business before being taken over by HSBC in 1992.
Speculation over a return for Midland Bank was heightened after the banking giant revealed it will consider moving its global headquarters out London this morning, in response to reforms for the UK finance industry.
That will not, however, affect proposals to shift 1,000 jobs from London to Arena Central by 2018 – indeed, it has signed a 250-year lease here.
Work on moving operations to Birmingham will begin imminently, with staff given the option to relocate to the city.
HSBC Bank chief executive Alan Keir told the Post last month: “The ethos was get banks back to financing the real economy – help people buy houses, get finance into businesses and help them start up. Another factor was that Birmingham was a leader in start-ups in the UK with 18,000 last year.
“Why wouldn’t we want to be where entrepreneurial Britain is strongest?”
HSBC chairman Douglas Flint revealed it was is to consider moving its headquarters out of the UK
Mr Flint said the banking giant was responding to “regulatory and structural reforms” in the industry in the wake of the financial crisis.
These include, in the UK, the need to separate its investment banking arm from the retail division serving ordinary customers and businesses.
Mr Flint said: “As part of the broader strategic review taking place, the board has therefore now asked management to commence work to look at where the best place is for HSBC to be headquartered in this new environment.
“The question is a complex one and it is too soon to say how long this will take or what the conclusion will be, but the work is under way.”
The HSBC spokesperson declined to comment on speculation over the Midland Bank brand.