Giannini, A. P.

Giannini, A. P. (Amadeo Peter Giannini) ämädĕˈō, jänēˈnē [key], 1870–1949, American banker and financier, b. San Jose, Calif. The son of Italian immigrants, he joined his stepfather in the produce business, becoming successful enough to retire in 1901. The next year he succeeded his late father-in-law on the board of a savings and loan, where he failed to interest other directors in lending to the working class. Opening the Bank of Italy in San Francisco in 1904, Giannini emphasized lending to those of modest means, the use of advertising and door-to-door solicitation of customers, and the development of branch banks, innovative practices that enabled the bank to expand and weather financial crises. The bank was instrumental in helping many San Franciscans rebuild after the 1906 earthquake and fire. In the 1920s, Giannini tried to establish a nationwide system of branch banks but was stymied by federal and state regulations. The Transamerica Corporation was established in 1928 as a holding company for his banking and other business interests, and at the time of Giannini's death the renamed (1930) Bank of America had become California's, the nation's, and world's largest commercial and savings bank.

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