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History of "la Caixa"

Historia La Caixa Internacional Terrat

La Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Cataluña y las Islas Baleares "la Caixa", was founded on April 5, 1904 by the Catalan lawyer Francesc Moragas Barret with the support of various institutions of Catalan civil society. It was created with the aim of encouraging savings and retirement planning, objectives which today might appear to be merely financial but were, in that historical context, clearly intended to help the working poor to achieve a measure of financial independence and security. Francesc Moragas (1868-1935), founder and first managing director of "la Caixa".

The headquarters of "la Caixa" on Via Laietana in Barcelona in the 1930s

On April 16, 1904, King Alfonso XIII officially inaugurated the Caja de Pensiones para la Vejez at the Beaux Arts Palace in Barcelona, the stage for many of the city’s most solemn events. At the inauguration, the monarch was named Honorary President and protector of the new entity.

Moragas, the first managing director of "la Caixa", had an idea: to create a private institution which, in those socially turbulent times, could offer workers and business leaders an instrument to provide retirement and disability insurance.

At about the same time Moragas and his associates included savings instruments as well. Thus, was born "la Caixa" -- an entity with a new economic and social concept of savings and the first to provide social insurance.

Francesc Moragas promoted an ambitious, professional concept of management which was very different from the predominant model in other savings banks at the time. He offered diversified savings products and created branches in Catalonia’s main towns and cities, introducing modern financial management. The territorial expansion of "la Caixa" continued apace in Catalonia and the Balearic islands with the aim of spreading the advantages of modern finance. In this sense, it should be noted that "la Caixa" was a Spanish pioneer in social assistance, one of the basic pillars of the current social security system.

"la Caixa" Foundation

"la Caixa", whose social goal of ending social exclusion was linked with the socioeconomic development of its territory, soon explored new methods of social action. It would again show its innovative character by changing the concept of social work in the savings banks. Until then, "la Caixa" – and the other savings banks as well - dedicated all earnings to reserves, limiting social spending to awarding prizes to depositors and to making small donations to charitable and cultural institutions. Starting in 1917, "la Caixa" began to allocate part of its earnings specifically to social projects and, in 1918, decided to integrate Welfare Projects into its organization to ensure that it would be managed efficiently and professionally. Rather than providing charity, the idea was to provide a range of services – social assistance, cultural, and civic – that would improve people’s quality of life. Over the years, these innovations would be recognized in Spanish legislation.

This level of social concern has been preserved over the years and, today more than ever, the current "la Caixa" resulting from the merger in 1990 with the Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de Barcelona - founded in 1844 - can give credit to its loyalty to the principles of social and economic commitment to the territory that inspired the founders of the Caja de Pensiones.

"la Caixa" is now the third-largest financial group in Spain and is the leader among Spanish and European savings banks. It is currently continuing its selective expansion plan outside of Catalonia and the Balearic islands, adding to the most extensive network of branch offices in the Spanish financial system and maintains its social, cultural, educational, and scientific activities through Welfare Projects.

History of a symbol

At the end of the 70s "la Caixa" decided to create an original new corporate identity to set it apart from other Spanish financial institutions. The idea was to endow "la Caixa" with a unique personality, both easily identifiable and easy to identify with. The company Landor Associates was hired to tackle the task. Of all the proposals on the table, the most appropriate and innovative was selected: to commission the most universal Catalan artist, Joan Miró, to create a tapestry from which an emblem could be taken.

Thus, in 1980 the star and its colors - so Mediterranean and typical of Miró's work - became the institution's symbol. Since that time, the symbol of "la Caixa" has created a style in the area of corporate image in the Spanish financial sector. Its widespread presence both in the streets and in the media has made the "la Caixa" star familiar throughout the country.

Reorganisation of the ”la Caixa” Group

On the 27 of January 2011, the Board of Directors of ”la Caixa” announced the reorganisation of the Group, by virtue of which ”la Caixa” transfers its banking business to Criteria CaixaCorp, which becomes a banking group called CaixaBank, and Criteria CaixaCorp transfers part of its industrial participations to a new entity that depends on the ”la Caixa” and which is called CaixaHolding.

Thus ”la Caixa” conserves its legal nature and the values of its model of savings bank –leadership, trust and social commitment- and is the majority shareholder of CaixaBank, the new quoted bank through which the entity undertakes its financial activity indirectly.

CaixaBank brings together the banking business of ”la Caixa”, the insurance business and the participations in international banks and in Telefónica and Repsol. The bank is founded with a leadership position in the Spanish financial and insurance sector, and additionally diversified in with other complementary activities. It also has some 5,200 branches, the lowest ratio of arrears among the large Spanish financial groups, the best coverage and the best position of capital.

”la Caixa” is also creating a new entity, called CaixaHolding, which brings together the industrial participations of the old Criteria CaixaCorp (Abertis, Agbar, Gas Natural Fenosa, Port Aventura and Mediterránea), Servihabitat and the property businesses.
The new reorganisation of the ”la Caixa” Group conserves the legal nature of ”la Caixa”, which continues as a savings bank, becoming strengthened, with a more solid financial structure, which guarantees its future growth, and strengthens the Welfare Projects.