In 1902, Herzl initiated the founding of a subsidiary, the Anglo-Palestine Company (better known as APC), which would operate as a bank in the Land of Israel. Its first CEO was Zalman Levontin, one of the founders of Rishon Lezion.
The Ottoman government placed severe restrictions on the bank’s activity, the local Jewish residents were unaccustomed to repaying loans and the bank’s development was therefore slow and cautious. In August 1903, its first branch opened in Jaffa, and a year later – in Jerusalem. During World War I, the Turks ordered the bank to cease activity, but Eliezer Siegfried Hoofien continued to operate it out of the Spanish Consulate in Jerusalem, while Levontin set up a branch in Alexandria (Egypt). The first branch in Tel Aviv opened in 1923. A year later, Levontin left his position, and Hoofien took over as CEO. In 1931, APC changed its name to Anglo-Palestine Bank, and in 1951 became Bank Leumi.
The bank financed a significant number of key Zionist projects, including founding the Hashomer defence organization and the Joint Distribution Committee un the Land of Israel (during World War I); purchasing lands on Mount Carmel; financing the construction of the Hebrew University and the Port of Tel Aviv, ect.
(From Barlev collection of Securities Certificates).