Merchant banks. Institutions that carry out a variety of financial services, including the acceptance of bills of exchange, the issue and placing of loans and securities, portfolio and unit trust management and some banking services. Several houses, often through subsidiaries, also provide risk capital for small firms, deal in gold bullion, insurance banking and hire purchase and are active in the market for eurodollars. Historically, the merchant bankers were merchants dealing in overseas trade who used their knowledge of traders to accept bills of exchange and who developed other banking services connected with foreign trade, e.g.
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dealing in gold and foreign currency and assisting foreign borrowers to raise money in London. Particularly in the 1960s their most prominent function was that of advising firms on mergers and take-overs and other financial matters, and many merchant banks are well known,
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