Banco Nacional Ultramarino

Banco Nacional Ultramarino
Wholly owned subsidiary
Industry Banking
Founded 1864 in Lisbon, Portugal
Headquarters Macau
Products Financial services
Number of employees
400 (2013)
Parent Caixa Geral de Depósitos (2001)

Banco Nacional Ultramarino (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈbɐ̃ku nɐsiuˈnaɫ uɫtɾɐmɐˈɾinu]; Chinese: 大西洋銀行; English: National Overseas Bank) was a Portuguese bank with operations throughout the world, especially in Portugal's former overseas provinces. It ceased existence as an independent legal entity in Portugal following its merger with Caixa Geral de Depósitos, the government-owned savings bank, in 2001.

The Bank continues operations today under the Banco Nacional Ultramarino brand in Macau, a Chinese Special Administrative Region and former Portuguese colony, where it is also licensed to issue Macanese pataca banknotes.


BNU logo
Bas-relief at Banco Nacional Ultramarino, Lisbon, of the coats-of-arms of the Portuguese Empire and various of its colonies
BNU Macau
BNU Tower in Macau

Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU) was established in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1864 as a bank of issue for Portuguese overseas territories. the next year it opened branches in Luanda, Angola and Praia, Cabo Verde. Three years after that, in 1868, BNU opened branches in São Tomé and Príncipe, Goa, and Mozambique.

In 1901 BNU lost its banking monopoly, but retained its note-issuing monopoly in the countries in which BNU operated. The next year, BNU opened branches in Macau and in Bolama, Portuguese Guinea (present-day Guinea-Bissau).

Just before World War 1, in 1912, BNU opened branches in Dili, East Timor (present-day Timor Leste, and in Brazil.

In 1952 BNU closed its branches in India.

In 1965 BNU, Banco Português do Atlântico, Banco de Angola, and the South African company, General Mining and Finance, founded Bank of Lisbon and South Africa. This was later renamed Mercantile Lisbon Bank.

In the 1970s, BNU bought a stake in Banque Interatlantique in Luxembourg, and established a representative office in London.

In 1974 the Portuguese government nationalized BNU, following the Carnation Revolution. Immediately thereafter, in 1975, local governments nationalized BNU's interests in Mozambique, which became Banco de Moçambique, and in São Tomé and Príncipe, which became National Bank of São Tomé and Príncipe. In 1993, the government split National Bank into a central bank, Central Bank of São Tomé and Príncipe, and a commercial bank, Banco Internacional de Sao Tome e Principe. In Cape Verde, BNU's interests became Bank of Cape Verde. In 1993, the government spun off the commercial banking operations into a new bank, Banco Comercial do Atlantico.


MOP$100 banknotes issued by BNU

The Monetary Authority of Macao has authorized two banks to issue banknotes denominated in Macanese pataca, the Bank of China and Banco Nacional Ultramarino S.A., CGD's subsidiary in Macau.[2][3] Owing to Macau's Portuguese colonial past, the languages on the banknotes features Portuguese as well as Chinese.

The Banco Nacional Ultramarino introduced its first pataca notes in 1906, in denominations of 1, 5, 50 and 100 pataca. The next year it introduced 10 and 25 pataca notes. The BNU began to issue lower-value notes with 5, 10 and 50 avo notes in 1920, and 1 and 20 avo notes in 1942. In 1944, it introduced a 500 pataca note. After 1952, coins replaced denominations below 10 patacas. The bank discontinued the 25 pataca note in 1958.

Previous note designs included the coat of arms of Portugal; the current issue BNU's corporate logo has replaced the Coat of Arms.

The current issue of BNU banknotes is:

Banco Nacional Ultramarino 2005 Series Banknote
Value Dimensions Color Obverse Reverse Printed Date
MOP$10 138 × 69 mm Yellow/Purple Statue of Deusa A-Má of Macau BNU building August 8, 2005
MOP$20 143 × 71.5 mm Violet Macau International Airport August 8, 2005
MOP$50 148 × 74 mm Brown Sai Van Bridge August 8, 2009
MOP$100 153 × 76.5 mm Blue Largo do Senado August 8, 2005
MOP$500 158 × 79 mm Green Macau Tower August 8, 2005
MOP$1000 163 × 81.5 mm Orange Macau Cultural Centre August 8, 2005

The 2005 series of BNU was printed by Hong Kong Note Printing Limited - Hong Kong.

See also


  1. Mambu ma Khenzu, E. 2006. A Modern History of Monetary and Financial Systems of Congo, 1885-1995. (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen), p. 132.
  2. "BNU Banknotes Online Exhibition". Banco Nacional Ultramarino S.A. (Macau). Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-06.
  3. "Issuance of banknotes". Bank of China (Macau). Archived from the original on 2008-06-11. Retrieved 2008-11-06.

External links

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