Barclays plc is a major global financial services provider operating in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Latin America, Australia, Asia and Africa. It is a holding company that is listed on the London, New York and Tokyo stock exchanges. It is also a constituent of the . It operates through its subsidiary Barclays Bank plc.
Barclays PLC is ranked as the 25th largest company in the world according to Forbes Global 2000 (2008 list) and the fourth largest financial services provider in the world according to Tier 1 capital ($32.5 billion). It is the second largest bank in the United Kingdom based on asset size, although its share price of about 50p in January 2009 is considerably lower as a result of a fall in investor confidence.
The bank's headquarters are at One Churchill Place in Canary Wharf, in London's Docklands, having moved there in May 2005 from Lombard Street in the City of London. The company also operates Barclays Bank of Delaware, which issues Juniper credit cards, one of the largest issuers of credit cards in the United States.
This bank traces its roots back to 1690 when John Freame and Thomas Gould started trading as Goldsmith bankers in Lombard Street London. The name "Barclays" became associated with the business in 1736, when James Barclay, son-in-law of John Freame, one of the founders, became a partner in the business. In 1728, the bank moved to 54 Lombard Street, which was identified by the 'Sign of the Black Spread Eagle', over the years becoming a core part of the bank's identity.
In 1896 several banks in London and the English provinces, notably Backhouse's Bank of Darlington and Gurney's Bank of Norwich, united under the banner of Barclays and Co., a joint-stock bank. Between 1905 and 1916 Barclays extended its branch network by making acquisitions of small English banks.
Further expansion followed in 1918 when Barclays amalgamated with the London, Provincial and South Western Bank and in 1919 when the British Linen Bank was acquired by Barclays Bank, although the British Linen Bank retained a separate board of directors and continued to issue its own bank notes. Then in 1924 the planned takeover of National Bank of Kingston reached near-completion but was halted three days before finalisation.