The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is a chartered bank with head offices in Toronto. One of CIBC's 2 predecessors was the Bank of Canada (incorporated 1858), which became the Canadian Bank of Commerce in 1867. It absorbed smaller banks, beginning with the Gore Bank in 1869 and ending with the Standard Bank of Canada in 1928. CIBC's second predecessor, the Imperial Bank of Canada (incorporated 1875), also absorbed other banks between 1875 and 1956, ending with Barclays Bank (Canada). The present name was adopted in 1961 on the merger of the Bank of Commerce and the Imperial Bank of Canada.
The CIBC provides commercial and personal banking services in 1400 branches in Canada and operates the largest international branch network of any Canadian financial institution, including over 80 in the West Indies alone. With changes in the Bank Act during the 1970s, the CIBC, like other Canadian banks, began to promote itself more actively, engaging Canadian entertainer Anne MURRAY as its spokesperson. The bank has also moved the most aggressively of all Canadian banks into insurance, through 3 wholly owned subsidiaries, CIBC Life Insurance, CIBC General Insurance and the Personal Insurance Company of Canada.
CIBC now owns its own trust company and has a majority stake in Wood Gundy, a securities firm. As of October 1997, it had a net income of $1.55 billion, total assets of $238 billion and over 45 000 employees.
In early 1998, following the merger plans of Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal, CIBC announced its own plans to merge with Toronto Dominion Bank. Such a merger would reduce the "Big 5" banks in Canada to the "Big 3." Government approval is needed for such a merger to occur; the objective, according to the banks, is to give them greater asset bases and operating strength to participate more effectively in the global financial services marketplace. However, in January 1999 the federal government announced that it would not allow the bank mergers to proceed.