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DFCC belongs to a category of institutions known as Development Financial Institutions or DFIs. Many of these organisations were created to assist rebuilding initiatives in war affected economies. These institutions were sponsored by governments or donors to provide term finance for developmental projects.

Around 60 percent of Development Financial Institutions around the world were owned by the governments of their respective countries. Another 25 percent were privately owned, while the balance had a mixed ownership.

The proposal to set up DFCC was first presented by the first World Bank mission, which visited the country in 1952. The unique structure that was created at the incorporation of DFCC was designed through a collaborative effort between the Government of Sri Lanka and the World Bank.

DFCC became a legal persona via an Act of Parliament. While the government had no direct shareholding in the institution, it provided non-interest-bearing long-term loans twice to the institution which was equivalent of the initial paid-up capital.

The Act provided for private sector shareholders with a board of directors elected by such shareholders. Although the government did not hold any share capital, it reserved for itself the right to nominate a director.

All of the usual procedural practices characterising a company, such as holding annual general meetings, passing special and general resolutions were incorporated into the Act either directly or by reference to the companies ordinance. Because the Act was a piece of legislation passed by parliament, it could be amended only by parliament.

DFCC Bank (Repeal and Consequential Provisions) Act No 39 of 2014 which provides for the registration of DFCC Bank as a public limited company incorporated under the Companies Act with the name DFCC Bank PLC (Company) was certified by the Hon. Speaker on 01 November 2014.

DFCC became a Public Quoted Company incorporated under the Companies Act No. 07 of 2007 with effect from 06 January 2015.

DFCC Bank and DFCC Vardhana Bank were amalgamated on 01 October 2015 and the surviving entity is DFCC Bank PLC.