Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation

Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation

The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited (often simply called the "Bombay Burmah Trading Company") was created in 1863 by the Wallace Brothers. It is India's oldest publicly quoted company.

The Wallace Brothers were a Scottish merchant house in Edinburgh. The six brothers first arrived in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1840s. A Bombay partnership was formed in 1848 as “Wallace Bros & Co”. In the mid 1850s the Wallaces set up a business in Rangoon, shipping tea to Bombay. In 1863 the business was floated as “The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation” (BBTC). Its equity was held by Indian merchants, as well as the Wallace Brothers who had the controlling interests. By the 1870s it was a leading producer of teak in Burma and Siam, as well as having other interests in cotton, oil exploration and shipping.

British motivations for the third Anglo-Burmese War were partly influenced by concerns of capitalism. The Burmese state’s conflict with the BBTC furnished British leaders with a pretext for conquest. By the 1880s Wallace Brothers had become a leading financial house in London. This firm was able to affect the intelligence about Burma (and more critically, the growing French influence in the country).

The company is the second oldest publicly quoted company in India. It is now part of the Wadia group of companies.

Further reading

Arnold Cecil Pointon, Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation 1863-1963 (Southampton: The Millbrook Press. 1964) 142 pp

RH Macaulay, History of Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation 1864 -1910 (London, 1934).

Anthony Webster, Gentlemen Capitalists: British Imperialism in South East Asia 1770-1890. (London: Tauris Academic Studies. 1998)

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