Cape Town - Yesterday the Grand Old Lady of St Georges Mall in central Cape Town stood forlorn in the pedestrian walkway.

The only activity at 117 St Georges Mall was the removal of boxes and files as the building was slowly being emptied and operations moved either to parent company Nedcor's Foreshore head office or the V&A Waterfront.

In May Howard Holdings, an Irish company, announced that it had bought two city blocks in the mall for redevelopment into a luxury hotel and residential, commercial and retail space.

The branch of Cape of Good Hope Bank, located on the site where the original branch was opened 172 years ago, closed last year after the merger with Nedcor was announced.

After Cape of Good Hope surrendered its banking licence, the 11 retail branches were integrated with Nedbank while its commercial and property business was merged into Nedbank Corporate.

Last Saturday the remaining branches in the Western Cape were closed and the staff absorbed in various Nedbank branches.

It was ironic that in October last year, a day after Nedcor announced that the Cape of Good Hope Bank brand would disappear, global ratings agency Fitch upgraded it rating on Cape of Good Hope from A1 to A+.

With the integration with Nedbank, Good Hope's capital base and its property financing activities were doubled.

The niche bank was not complacent and in 2000 it launched a property financing arm in Gauteng and in 2001 asset financing.

Yesterday Mike Thompson, former Good Hope chief executive and now regional executive of Nedcor Corporate, said about 80 percent of Cape of Good Hope's 25 000 customers had migrated to Nedbank branches.

There had been no staff losses and Good Hope staff were placed in similar positions in Nedbank.

A call centre to assist Good Hope customers would remain in operation in the original building until November.

Thompson said there had been little fallout, but former Good Hope customers found that they did not get the same nurturing in Nedbank with its 1.3 million customers.

Nedcor's share price rose 80c to close at R94.80.