Founded in 1856, primarily to fund the construction of the Swiss railways and the expansion of heavy industry, Credit Suisse's early years were dominated by politician Alfred Escher, who came from one of the best known Zurich families. It was 50 years before the firm moved into retail banking and a further 35 before it expanded abroad, the first foreign branch opening in New York in 1940. The quiet expansion of the business continued internationally with an alliance with The First Boston Corporation beginning in 1978. Ten years later Credit Suisse took control of First Boston and in the early 1990s expanded quickly with the acquisition of Bank Leu, the Swiss Volksbank and the Wintherthur insurance group.In the investment banking world Credit Suisse First Boston gained a reputation as an aggressive organization. In the summer of 1998 the company poached 150 top analysts and bankers from rival Deutsche Bank and has been involved in some of the biggest merger deals in recent history, including the Daimler-Chrysler takeover. The expansion continued in 2000 with the acquisition of a rival merchant bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.Credit Suisse First Boston is already heavily involved in the sport. It has helped Alain Prost to find backers and more recently has played an important - but very low-key role - in the dealings involving Bernie Ecclestone and EM.TV.Credit Suisse's decision to sponsor the Sauber team followed the appointment of 51-year-old Lukas Muhlemann, a Harvard-educated former IBM executive, as chairman in May 2000.