The legal predecessor of Inter-Európa Bank Rt. was INTERINVEST Külkereskedelmi Hitelintézet Bt., which was formed in January 1981 by 43 leading Hungarian foreign trade companies, in order to finance export development projects. The change in the legal regulation environment provided a favourable basis for expanding activities, thus INTERINVEST was licensed as a financial institution as of 1 January 1985, and was transformed into a company limited by shares on 1 January 1988 under the new name of INTERBANK Külkereskedelmi Fejlesztési Hitelintézet Rt. At the end of 1988, it was the first Hungarian bank to have its books audited by a renowned international audit firm, KPMG Peat Marwick Treuhand GmbH.
The Bank was licensed first as a commercial bank, and then for foreign exchange transactions, when the Italian Istituto Bancario San Paolo di Torino acquired a 22.51% holding in the Bank on 15 June 1989 by purchasing newly issued shares worth USD 10 million. The international operations and ownership structure of the Bank are reflected in its present name: Inter-Európa Bank Rt. The largest shareholder of Inter-Európa Bank Rt. is currently SANPAOLO IMI SpA, one of Italy's leading financial groups.
The Class A shares of Inter-Európa Bank Rt. were listed on the Budapest Stock Exchange in July 1994, the first of any Hungarian financial institution. In October 1997 more Class A shares were issued following the conversion of the Bank's reserves to share capital, thus the number of Inter-Európa Bank Rt. shares on the Budapest Stock Exchange doubled. In March 1998 the Bank increased its share capital by HUF 1.4 billion through a public share quotation. In November 2000 the Bank changed the face value of its shares from HUF 10 000 to HUF 1 000, in order to increase its stock exchange liquidity.
Along with expanding its activity and increasing the number of business partners, the Bank began developing its national branch network in 1991. At the end of 2002 its network comprised 23 offices; yet its sales channels are far more extensive than this: a sales agent network and a full range of electronic access possibilities are available to clients.
The Bank concentrated heavily on developing multi-purpose financial services. This was facilitated in 1998 by the Bank becoming the majority shareholder of New York Broker Budapest Rt., one of the biggest brokerage firms working without a banking background, and of Europool Befektetési Alapkezelo Rt. In line with changes in the legal regulation environment the activity of the brokerage firm was integrated into the activities of the Bank in 2001 as a response to market challenges and the business portfolio of the brokerage was also transferred to the Bank. Thus Inter-Európa Bank Rt. became a financial institution providing multi-purpose services, while in the future, IE-New York Broker Rt. will act on behalf of the Bank as its agent.
On 27 February 2003, SanPaolo IMI Internazionale SpA, fully owned by the Bank's strategic shareholder, SANPAOLO IMI SpA, made a public bid for the Bank's Type 'A' registered ordinary shares. The quoted price was HUF 2 000/share (for all shares). The transfer to SanPaolo IMI Internazionale SpA of a share packet, representing 32.509% of the Bank's issued capital and held by SANPAOLO IMI SpA, took place simultaneously.