BCP was incorporated on 17 June 1985 as a limited liability company ("sociedade anónima") organised under the laws of Portugal following the deregulation of the Portuguese banking industry. BCP was founded by a group of over 200 shareholders and a team of experienced banking professionals who sought to capitalise on the opportunity to form an independent financial institution that would serve the then underdeveloped Portuguese financial market more effectively than state-owned banks.
While the Bank's development was initially characterised by organic growth, a series of strategic acquisitions helped solidify its position in the Portuguese market and increase its offering of financial products and services. In March 1995, BCP acquired control of Banco Português do Atlântico, S.A. ("Atlântico"), which was then the largest private bank in Portugal. This was followed by a joint takeover bid for the whole share capital of Atlântico. In June 2000, Atlântico was merged into BCP. In 2000, BCP also acquired Império, along with Banco Mello and Banco Pinto & Sotto Mayor. In 2004, with a view to strengthening its focus on the core business of distribution of financial products and optimising capital consumption, BCP sold insurers Império Bonança, Seguro Directo, Impergesto and Servicomercial to the Caixa Geral de Depósitos group. BCP also entered into agreements with Fortis (currently Ageas) for the sale of a controlling stake and management control of insurers Ocidental - Companhia Portuguesa de Seguros, S.A., Ocidental - Companhia Portuguesa de Seguros de Vida, S.A. and Médis - Companhia Portuguesa de Seguros de Saúde, S.A., as well as the pension fund manager PensõesGere - Sociedade Gestora de Fundos de Pensões, S.A.
After the consolidation of its position in the Portuguese banking market, the Bank focused on the development of its retail business in new regions, with the goal of attaining significant positions in emerging markets in Europe and in Africa. The Bank concentrated on businesses with strong growth prospects in foreign markets with a close historical connection to Portugal or that have large communities of Portuguese origin (such as Angola, Mozambique, the United States, Canada, France, Luxembourg and Macao), as well as in markets where the Bank's successful Portuguese business model can be effectively exported and tailored to suit such local markets (such as Poland, Greece and Romania).The Bank has pursued a consistent strategy of market segmentation. Until 2003, these segments were served through autonomous distribution networks operating under a variety of brand names. In October 2003, BCP began the process of replacing these brands in Portugal with a single brand name Millennium bcp. The rebranding in other markets was completed in 2006. All operations of the Bank are now carried out under the "Millennium" brand. In Portugal, the Bank also operates under the "ActivoBank" brand.
In 2004, the Bank also sold its non-life insurance businesses and divested a portion of its life insurance business by entering into a joint venture with Ageas (formerly Fortis), named Millenniumbcp Ageas, of which 51% is held by Ageas and 49% by the Bank.
In recent years, the Bank has refocused on operations that it considers core to its business. As part of this refocus, the Bank divested several of its international operations (in France, Luxembourg, United States, Canada, Greece, Turkey and Romania), while retaining commercial protocols to facilitate remittances from Portuguese emigrants in some markets. In 2010, the Bank transformed its Macao off-shore branch into an on-shore branch.
In February 2012, the Bank adopted a management restructuring through the introduction of a one-tier management and supervisory model, composed of the Board of Directors, including an Executive Committee and Audit Committee (the latter comprising non-executive members, in accordance with the applicable law), and of the Statutory Auditor. In December 2012, the Bank prepared and presented to the Portuguese government a Restructuring Plan, required by national law and by the applicable European rules on matters of State aid. The Restructuring Plan was formally submitted by the Portuguese government to the EC and, In July 2013, the Bank agreed with the EC a Restructuring Plan, entailing an improvement of the profitability of the Bank in Portugal through continued cost reduction. On September 2013, the DG Comp announced its formal decision in connection with its agreement with the Portuguese authorities concerning the Bank's Restructuring Plan. Pursuant to the decision, the Bank's Restructuring Plan was found in compliance with the European Union's rules relating to State aid, demonstrating the Bank's viability without continued State support. The approved Restructuring Plan aimed at strengthening the Bank's strategy by focusing on its core activities.
In May 2014, as part of a process aiming to refocus on core activities defined as a priority in its Strategic Plan, the Bank announced that it agreed with the international insurance group Ageas a partial recast of the strategic partnership agreements entered into in 2004, which included the sale of its 49% interest in the (currently jointly owned) insurance companies that operate exclusively in the non-life insurance business, i.e. Ocidental – Companhia Portuguesa de Seguros, S.A. and Médis – Companhia Portuguesa de Seguros de Saúde, S.A.
In April 2016, the Bank announced the conclusion of the merger between Banco Millennium Angola, S.A. with Banco Privado Atlântico, S.A., resulting in the second-largest private sector bank in terms of loans to the economy, with a market share of approximately 10% by business volume.
BCP has announced in January 2017 a €1.3bn rights issue with transferable pre-emptive subscription rights. The aim of this transaction was to bring forward the full repayment of remaining Government Subscribed Securities and the removal of key State-aid related restrictions, including dividend ban, risk of potential sale of core businesses and tail risk of conversion. This transaction was designed to strengthening the balance sheet through the improvement of CET1 FL ratio and Texas ratio, bringing them in line with new industry benchmarks and above current regulatory requirements.
Millennium has successfully executed an operational turnaround, reinforcing its financial and capital position despite the adverse setting of the banking sector in the core Portuguese market. This position reflects our relentless path and the compounding of multiple achievements, such as a more than 40% cost reduction in Portugal since 2011, and a 44% reduction in Group NPE since 2013 (from €13.7 billion to €7.7 billion in 2017). Three distinctive competences were at the core of this turnaround: a customer-oriented relationship model, market-leading efficiency, and a competitive international portfolio.