Abstract: Financing the Development of Foreign-Owned Electrical Systems in the Americas, 1890-1929: First Steps in Comparing European and North American Techniques
Networked electric systems spread across the globe early in the twentieth century. The process was led largely by groups of free-standing companies, or clusters of companies, based primarily in Europe (Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France) and North America (Canada and the United States). In this paper I compare the several European patterns with those of North America in financing and organizing foreign utilities. The focus will be on the ways in which three forms of investment—the European industrial bank, the Canadian financial syndicate, and the US holding company—addressed different challenges in the process of foreign direct investment over time.