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Midland Bank

Midland Bank Plc was one of the Big Four banking groups in the United Kingdom for most of the 20th century. It is now part of HSBC; the bank was founded as the Birmingham and Midland Bank in Union Street, England in August 1836. It expanded in the Midlands, absorbing many local banks, merged with the Central Bank of London Ltd. in 1891, becoming the London City and Midland Bank. After a period of nationwide expansion, including the acquisition of many smaller banks, the name Midland Bank Ltd was adopted in 1923. By 1934, it was the largest deposit bank in the world, it was listed on the London Stock Exchange, was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, but in June 1992, it was taken over by HSBC Holdings plc, who phased out the Midland Bank name by June 1999, in favour of HSBC Bank. On 10 June 2015, HSBC announced. HSBC chairman Douglas Flint described the Midland brand as "odds on favourite" for a return to the high street. In September 2015, it was announced that the Midland Bank name would not be revived, the branch network in the United Kingdom would be branded "HSBC UK".

Midland Bank was founded by Charles Geach, its first manager in Union Street, England, in August 1836. Geach had worked at the Bank of England. In the 1830s and 1840s, Midland offered discounted bills of exchange for customers. By the 1850s, the bank's customers included railways, iron founders and engineering concerns and municipal corporations. Midland acquired Stourbridge Old Bank in 1851 and Nichols and Crane of Bewdley in 1862. From the 1880s, it expanded its customer base by acquiring other banks. In 1891 it acquired the Central Bank of London, in 1898 it bought the City Bank and, in 1914, it acquired the Birmingham Banking Company. By 1918, with deposits of £335 million, it ranked as the largest bank in the world. Edward Hopkinson Holden led the bank at this time first as Managing Director from 1898 to 1908 and as Chairman and Managing Director from 1908 until his death in 1919, he oversaw more than twenty bank amalgamations between 1891 and 1918, opened new branches throughout England and Wales.

Holden expanded overseas. From 1907, these correspondents included Shanghai Banking Corporation. After the First World War, the leading British banks entered an agreement with the government that they would not attempt further amalgamations without Treasury approval; as a result, Midland turned its attention to expanding its branch network, adding new banking services, mechanising its systems and advertising its activities. Midland responded to the ending of credit restrictions in 1958, by extending its branch network and by introducing a series of innovative services, including personal loans, personal cheque accounts and cheque cards. In 1958, it acquired Forward Trust, which became a leader in installment finance and factoring services. In 1967, Midland acquired a share in Montagu Trust, the owner of Samuel Montagu & Co. and thereby became the first British clearing bank to own a London merchant bank. Samuel Montagu, with its own history dating back to 1853, became a wholly owned subsidiary in 1974, is now part of HSBC's private banking business.

Through the acquisition of Samuel Montagu & Co, Midland gained a majority share in Guyerzeller Bank AG in Switzerland. Further diversification followed in 1972, when Midland was the leading member of the consortium that acquired the Thomas Cook travel business. After becoming sole owner in 1977, Midland sold its interest in 1992. In 1974, Midland began to open branches or representative offices in overseas countries and to acquire other international banks; the largest of these was the purchase of a majority share in Crocker National of California, United States: this was not a success and Midland was forced to take full ownership in 1985 so that it could sell it to Wells Fargo the following year. In 1980, Midland acquired a controlling interest in Trinkaus & Burkhardt KGaA, a private bank in Germany with a long history of its own, today HSBC Trinkaus. In 1984, in a bid to grab market share Midland scrapped current account charges, it was so successful that all other banks in the United Kingdom had to follow and offer the same or risk losing their customers.

The country has had free banking since. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation acquired a 14.9% equity interest in Midland Bank in 1987, a strong working relationship developed. In October 1989, First Direct was established and was at the forefront of telephone banking, with person to person service available twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year. In June 1992, HSBC Holdings plc acquired full ownership of Midland Bank. At the time, it was one of the largest acquisitions in banking history, gave HSBC a major foothold in Europe, which it needed to complement its existing business in Asia and the Americas, when it had to move its Hong Kong based headquarters to London on 1 January 1993, accepting primary banking supervision by the Bank of England. Midland Bank was renamed HSBC Bank in June 1999, as part of the adoption of the HSBC brand throughout the Group; the last head office of the Midland Bank, opposite the Bank of England in Poultry and Princes Street, was sold in October 2006 to an tycoon from Russia, with HSBC vacating the banking hall on the ground floor and huge underg

Saraye Ameriha

Saraye Ameriha is a large historic house in Kashan, Iran. It was built as a family residence during Zand dynasty for Agha Āmeri, the governor of Kashan, it is now restored and transformed into a traditional-style museum and hotel. Being the largest traditional house in Kashan, it has several interior and exterior yards, each consisting of pools and many rooms, it has the highest wind catcher in Kashan. The first attempt to restore a part of Kashan’s local culture began in 1999, Ameriha House was entrusted to an experienced team for restoration, since it was ruined after earthquakes and lack of attention. Great care and attention was taken to restore the historical house based on its original blueprints and the first phase of the restoration project ended in 2014; the Phase two ended in 2017 and phase three is still going on, as new yards and areas are restored and made public for visits. The house’s opening ceremony was held in 2014 and Masoud Soltanifar, Vice President of Iran and head of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, professor Samii and other statesmen were in attendance for inaugurating ceremony.

Now, with twenty seven rooms, two restaurants, a coffee shop and an art gallery, SarayeAmeriha at Kashan is the pearl of desert. Ameri House was built 200 years ago, now it is a traditional museum and hotel which once had fallen into ruin for several years. Although now a functioning museum and boutique hotel, Ameri House is still being repaired and renovated in an attempt to set a new concept of Persian hospitality in historical hotels using a blend of traditional & decorated Rooms and facilities; the Saraye Ameriha house is a large historic house in Iran. It was built as a family residence during Zand dynasty for Agha Āmeri, the governor of Kashan, it is now restored and transformed into a traditional-style hotel; the Āmeri House is a huge House of 9,000 square metres. It contains dozens of rooms, two bathhouses, seven courtyards with gardens and fountains; the main structure is made of brick. Mud and straw are used in the insulation; the inner spaces are decorated with mirror works. It has the highest wind catcher amongst houses in Kashan and like other traditional Iranian houses, it consists of interior and exterior sections, pools, crew yards, stables covered with various beautiful and artistic ornamentations of Iran such as stucco, paintings on plaster, woodwork and some other ornamentation arts.

It is closest to some monuments of Kashan like Tabatabai House and Borojerdi House that are the most beautiful samples of Persian Culture and architecture. Saraye Ameriha has several main yards, each with a large or small pool, sorrounded by guest rooms and suites. Currenctly, it has 27 rooms, including royals. Other facilities include a carpet weaving house, conference room for national and international cultural programmes and seminars, Sohrab Sepehri Gallery for showcasing art, Souvenir shop, coffed house and many more saloons and halls; the main structure is made of brick. Mud and straw are used in the insulation; the inner spaces are decorated with mirror works. Official Website

Water privatization in Guayaquil

Water privatization in Guayaquil began with the decision taken in 1995 to privatize drinking water supply and sewerage in Guayaquil, the largest city and economic capital of Ecuador, through a concession contract. In preparation for privatization, the separate water and sewer utilities were merged into a single utility in 1996; the new utility began to improve its performance. In parallel, the international bidding for the concession was prepared by Banque Paribas as the international advisor and was supported by the Inter-American Development Bank; the latter made a loan, signed in October 1997 conditional upon the decision to award a concession. The 30-year concession agreement between the city government and the private company Interagua was signed in 2001; the contract was "poor-friendly", requiring the private company to keep tariffs constant for the first five years and to connect new users in poor areas "at no cost". At the same time, the former municipal water and sewer utility ECAPAG became the regulatory agency for the new private utility.

Interagua is a consortium led by the Spanish company Proactiva Medio Ambiente, which in turn is supported by the Spanish construction firm FCC and the French water company Veolia Environnement. In 2012 the regulator ECAPAG was transformed into the Municipal Public Drinking Water and Sanitation Company of Guayaquil in what may be a first step towards the municipalization of the concession; the investments undertaken by the concessionaire are financed through retained earnings, the municipality and the State Bank of Ecuador. The government funds are deposited into a trust fund that the concessionnaire can only access under certain conditions. For the 2011-2016 period investments of US$380 million are expected to be financed by the concessionnaire, the municipality and the State Bank of Ecuador as well as the national government and the proceedings of a tax called Special Improvement Contributions. Before the concession, 50% of the city had only 10 hours service per day. In parts of the city water was supplied only 2 to 4 hours per day at low pressure.

Commercial and physical losses in water distribution, technically called non-revenue water, stood at a staggering 79 percent. Only 46 percent of water bills were collected, and only 26 percent of all connections were metered. During its first five years the company brought 24 hours service to all the city and served an additional 55,000 families low income in the southern part of the city. Access to water supply increased from 64 percent in 2000 to 72 percent in 2003, access to sewerage has grown from 46 percent to 55 percent during the same period. According to an article written by Interagua for public relations all the "formally developed areas" of the city had access to piped water at "reasonable pressure" in 2012. However, according to Interagua's own annual report 2009-2010, only an estimated 82 percent of the population had access to piped water and 67 percent had access to sewerage in July 2010. In 10 years access to piped water supply thus increased from 64 to 82 percent. Customers who gained access to piped water supply were able to consume twice as much water while paying one fifth of what they paid before, when they had bought it from vendors distributing it in tankers.

Tankers charged US$3.50 per cubic meter, while Interagua charges only 34 cents per cubic meter for the first 15 cubic meters per month. The concessionaire increased billing efficiency - the share of bills issued that are paid - to about 75 percent by 2003; the number of staff was reduced by 43 percent between 2001 and 2003. This brought the number of staff per 1,000 connections down to less than 3, a level, consistent with international good practice for an efficient utility; some of the remaining challenges are fluctuating water pressure and high levels of non-revenue water, consisting of both physical and commercial water losses. This is shown by the reports of the independent technical auditor who reviews annually the performance of Interagua. While the report confirmed that in 2010 at least 95 percent of all customers received water at a pressure above the minimum pressure, defined as 5 meters of water column in the center of the city and 8 meters of water column in the North of the city, the report contained no data about pressure variations and maximal pressure.

Interagua wants to achieve constant pressure throughout its service area by 2015 or 2016. In 2010 the level of non-revenue water was 62 percent; this level is much higher in Peru. There have been complaints of poor water quality in marginal communities. Residents of Guasmo Sur complained of turbid, foul smelling water, not fit for consumption and residents of Suburbio Oeste have struggled through both a hepatitis outbreak and periodic issues of decreased chlorine content/increased fecal content in the samples from their sector in 2004. A 2006 study conducted for the Inter-American Development Bank came to the conclusion that compared to Quito, served by a publicly managed water utility, water quality was worse in Guayaquil, the poor had less access to piped water and water tariffs were higher. In terms of trends, the study concluded that between 1995 and 2005 "poor homes decreased their likelihood of having access to water in Guayaquil relative to Quito". Interagua ECAPAG - Organismo de Control y Regulación de la Concesión