Barings Bank collapse - Investment & Finance Definition
The financial collapse, in 1995, of one of the world’s oldest banks, Barings Bank, which had been the banker to the British royal family. Nick Leeson, a Singapore-based trader for the bank, made a series of bad trades over a several year period that incurred substantial losses that produced the Barings failure. Barings Bank was bought after the collapse by ING, a Dutch financial institution, for £1. The Barings Bank collapse is an example of what can go wrong when a bank fails to properly supervise its employees and their trading practices. Leeson took speculative positions (primarily in the futures market) that were linked to the Nikkei 225. He also took speculative positions in Japanese government bonds and options on the Nikkei. By the end of 1994, Leeson had lost £208 million, which created a £827 million hole in the bank’s balance sheet. By February 1995, half of the open interest in the Nikkei futures and 85 percent of the open interest in the Japanese Government Bond futures were attributed to Leeson.