1984: BMO acquires Harris Bank in Chicago
The acquisition made BMO the first truly North American bank.
Early settlers in the West were in great need of banks to exchange money, safeguard deposits, and extend loans for new business ventures. Yet many in Wisconsin distrusted banks. The territory’s earliest institutions had been poorly managed and had caused great financial hardships when they collapsed.
Enter Samuel Marshall, an ambitious young man of just 26 who brought a unique spirit to the banking business – a spirit shaped by his Quaker childhood, which taught him to value integrity, caution in business dealings and fair treatment of employees and customers. During the six decades of Marshall’s leadership, the bank continued to exemplify this founding spirit.
After just two years in operation, Marshall’s exchange business had become one of Milwaukee’s most respected institutions. But Marshall didn’t like going it alone. As a private bank with no public charter, the business relied solely upon his skills in finance and his personal reputation. After his first business partner left to seek greener pastures, Marshall met a newcomer to Milwaukee, Charles F. Ilsley, whose business acumen and personality were exactly what Marshall was looking for. The two men not only made a highly successful banking team, but also a lifelong friendship that lasted almost 60 years.
In 2011 we identified M&I as an excellent strategic, financial and cultural fit for BMO. The acquisition would strengthen the bank’s competitive position in the U.S. Midwest and provide strong entry into other attractive markets, including Minnesota, Missouri and Kansas.
By October 2012, we had completed the integration of the personal, commercial and wealth operating systems of Harris Bank and M&I, giving customers access to a network of more than 600 branches and about 1,300 ATMs – all displaying the new name BMO Harris Bank.
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