Revisiting British Investment in Latin America: The Business Life-Cycle of the Firms Controlled by River Plate Trust Group, 1884-1963

Norma S. Lanciotti

The paper analyzes the performance and profitability of the firms controlled by River Plate Trust Group in Argentina and Uruguay. It seeks to identify different stages of their life-cycles and review the classical periodization of British investment in the Southern Cone from a business history approach. From the perspective of the host economies, we find that the decline of British investment did not represent the end of the business cycle but a change in the direction of capital flows from the River Plate to Britain.

Also known as Morris or Morrison group, River Plate Trust became the most important British business group in the region during the First Global Period, as it controlled a number of public utility, mortgage and financial firms.  Based on The River & Mercantile Trust Records (University College, London), we analyze the distribution of investments, capital invested, incomes, profits and losses of the parent company (The River Plate, Trust, Loan & Agency) and the controlled firms (Consolidated Waterworks Co. of Rosario, Rosario Drainage Co., The Mortgage Company of the River Plate and The River Plate & General Investment Trust). 

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