The beginnings of what is now BBK go back to 1907 with the founding of the Caja de Bilbao and thirteen years later, in 1920, with the Caja de Ahorros Vizcaína. These two institutions coexisted and followed parallel paths until they merged in 1990 to start out together under the name of BBK (Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa).
The aim of the first public savings bank in Bizkaia (Caja Municipal de Bilbao) was to attract the savings of the common people and provide social and charitable assistance, which was more typical in the 19th century. However, from the first decade of the 20th century onwards it gradually changed its function and moved towards new forms of assistance and social security, such as working together with the National Social Security Institute and promoting cheap housing.
For its part, the initial aim of the Caja Vizcaína was to meet the introduction of Old-age Insurance in 1920. But the Caja also served as a source of finance for the Provincial Council itself, which as a promoter and founder, had its capital available to expand its own welfare policy.
The financial landscape in 1976 was awash with 88 savings banks. Limited to their home territory with restrictions on their financial activity, these institutions could hardly compete with traditional banks. Only a year later the sector was to face its first transformation with the initial liberalisation of the savings banks, which would be completed a decade later with other legislative changes that would allow savings banks to compete outside their community. From this moment on the savings banks went through an unprecedented expansion phase that was suddenly cut short by the great financial crisis.
Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa was formed on the 16th of February 1990 by the merger of the Municipal Savings Bank of Bilbao and the Provincial Savings Bank of Vizcaya. During this period one of its most widely-acknowledged aspects in Bizkaia has been its Social Projects, which have covered a wide variety of fields in the lives of the people of Vizcaya, ranging from culture to health and also including sports activities, job creation, support for the agricultural sector,…
From an economic point of view it has been characterised by its prudent, serious business management.
At the same time it has been one of the leading driving forces for growth in Bizkaia. It has provided financial support for rural areas and underprivileged social groups, promoted the creation of essential infrastructure for the development of the province (Bilbao Exhibition Centre, Universities, etc.) and has provided support for strategic companies (Iberdrola, Petronor, Euskaltel,…).
In short, BBK has been a savings bank that has not only been able to be competitive and efficient from a financial perspective, but has also contributed to society in Bizkaia and has boosted growth in the province.
Two decades later, in 2010, Caja Sur joined the original BBK and then in 2012 merged with its fellow Basque savings banks, Vital and Kutxa, to create Kutxabank.
BBK passed all its banking activity and industrial holdings to the new entity Kutxabank, and in exchange obtained its corresponding 57% stake in the new entity.
A year afterwards a new regulatory change in the banking sector led to taking the decision to turn BBK into a Banking Foundation. And so in June 2014 it officially became BBK Banking Foundation.
BBK opted to engage in innovation right from the beginning. It needed to recreate a new forward-looking foundation. BBK restored the essence of the triangle that existed in the bank’s origins, a key factor in its development and progress throughout its history: the protection of the banking business, social projects and industrial holdings.
They adapted its human and material resources to meet the new situation, provided it with the most stringent corporate governance policies and set up a governance system at the highest level.
Another of the requirements resulting from the new regulations involved diversifying risk, and as a result, investment. To do this, BBK set up a stabilisation fund which means that there is less and less dependence on the main investment; thus creating greater autonomy and ensuring the sustainability of its Social Projects.