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Francesc Moragas (1868-1935), founder and first managing director of ”la Caixa”.

Fundación Bancaria Caixa d’Estalvis i Pensions de Barcelona, “la Caixa”, is the result of transforming “la Caixa” into a banking foundation in June 2014, in compliance with the Savings Banks and Banking Foundations Law of 27 December 2013.

La Caja de Pensiones para la Vejez y de Ahorros de Cataluña y Baleares, ”la Caixa”, was founded on April 5, 1904 by the Catalan lawyer Francesc Moragas Barret with the support of various Catalan civil institutions. 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.

Headquarters of ”la Caixa” in Via Laietana of Barcelona in the 30s.

On April 16, 1904, King Alfonso XIII officially inaugurated the Caja de Pensiones para la Vejez at the Beaux Arts Palace in Barcelona, the setting 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” Community Work

“La Caixa”, which was created with a social purpose linked to preventing financial exclusion and with a spirit of commitment to the socio-economic development of its territory, soon explored new channels of social action. In this way, it would again demonstrate its innovative nature by changing the concept of community work by savings work.

Until 1917, ”la Caixa” – and all savings banks – allocated all its financial surpluses to the creation of reserves, and its community work was limited to the awarding of prizes to depositors and small donations to charitable and cultural organisations. However, from 1917 onwards, ”la Caixa” started to dedicate part of its surplus specifically to the performance of community projects and, in 1918, decided to integrate Community Work into its organisation to ensure a professional and efficient management of the same. It was not about doing charity work, but instead about providing civic, cultural and social welfare services that improved people's quality of life. Over the years, these innovations would be covered by legal provisions.

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 Landor Associates company was hired to tackle the task. Of all the proposals on the table, the most appropriate and innovative was selected. Joan Miró, the most universal Catalan artist, was commissioned to create a tapestry from which an emblem could be taken.

Thus, in 1980 the star and its colour - so Mediterranean and typical of Miró's work - became the institution's symbol. Since that time, the symbol of  ”la Caixa” has set a trend 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.

Growth and reorganization

  •  In 1990, Caja de Pensiones para la Vejez y de Ahorros de Cataluña y Baleares, ”la Caixa”, founded on 5 April 1904 by Catalan lawyer Francesc Moragas Barret, merged with Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de Barcelona, founded in 1844, and gave rise to a leading group in the Spanish financial system and among Spanish and European savings banks.
  • The product of a plan to expand outside of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, “la Caixa” formed the largest network of branch offices in the Spanish financial system, and it funds and maintains activities of a social, cultural, educational and scientific nature through Obra Social.
  • In 2007, “la Caixa” approved the initial public offering of its investee portfolio through the Criteria Caixacorp society, of which “la Caixa” will keep a controlling share.
  • In 2011, ”la Caixa” approved a reorganization process which peaks with the creation of CaixaBank, a quoted banking organization through which the “la Caixa” Group continued to indirectly develop its financial activity.
  • CaixaBank brings together the banking business of ”la Caixa”, the insurance business and its in international banks, and Repsol. The bank holds a leading position in the Spanish financial and insurance sector, and is also engaged in other complementary activities. It has some 5,700 branches, the lowest ratio of non-performing loans among the large Spanish financial groups, the best coverage and the best capital.
  • ”la Caixa” is also creating a new entity, which brings together the industrial holdings of the former Criteria CaixaCorp (Abertis, Agbar, Gas Natural Fenosa, Port Aventura and Mediterránea), Servihabitat and the property businesses.

Creation of the ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation

(1) Once ”la Caixa” has been transformed into a banking foundation it is foreseen to transfer all assets and liabilities not related to social welfare (“Obra Social”) to Criteria. This includes the full holding of CaixaBank shares and issued outstanding debt which on 31th of March 2014 amounted to 7,805 M€.
(2) As of 31th March 2014 (55.9% fully diluted in 2017).
(3) Outstanding real estate assets resulting from the Group reorganization in 2011.

In June 2014, “la Caixa” becomes Fundación Bancaria Caixa d’Estalvis i Pensions de Barcelona, “la Caixa”, in compliance with the Savings Banks and Banking Foundations Law of 27 December.

Within the transformation process, the following agreements have also been reached: on the one hand, the dissolution and liquidation of the “la Caixa” Foundation, which transfers its activity to the Banking Foundation, and on the other hand, the transfer of the “la Caixa” shares in CaixaBank in favor of Criteria CaixaHolding - integrally held by “la Caixa” - so that the “la Caixa” Banking Foundation will go on to hold a share in CaixaBank through Criteria.