BMO Financial Group
TSX : BMO
NYSE : BMO

BMO Financial Group
BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

March 22, 2011 12:25 ET

BMO Pursuing Growth in Every Region of Canada and Expanding in the Central U.S.: CEO Bill Downe

BMO had an outstanding 2010 with the highest net income in the history of the bank ($2.8 billion) and total shareholder return of 26.4%-in the top tier of its Canadian peer group for the second year in a row.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 22, 2011) -

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available via Marketwire on the picture wire 

of The Canadian Press. 

In an address to the 193rd Annual Meeting of Shareholders of Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO), Bill Downe, President and Chief Executive Officer, told his fellow shareholders that BMO sees tremendous opportunities ahead in North America. 

"We're pursuing market share growth in every region of Canada," said Mr. Downe. "Over the past year, Canadian Personal and Commercial Banking has shown exceptionally strong performance. With 2010 revenues up 10 per cent and record net income for the year, P&C Canada is a market leader and a pacesetter for our entire enterprise. With BMO's P&C Canada business now so well positioned, expanding our home market to include the central U.S. is a natural next step."

Speaking about what the acquisition of Marshall & Illsley Corporation (M&I) will mean for shareholders, Mr. Downe said, "In the medium term, our aspiration is that our U.S. personal & commercial and wealth businesses will generate a billion dollars in earnings annually.

"We will grow personal and commercial banking through a network that will comprise some 900 BMO branches in Canada and 700 in the U.S. – an enviable footprint that will have a combined North American deposit base of over $160 billion.

"Banks have a unique institutional role to play in society. Banks provide the means by which economic growth can occur, and they help ensure the stability to sustain it. This is both an obligation and an opportunity. It's a role we at BMO don't take lightly," concluded Mr. Downe.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information

Certain statements in this communication are forward-looking statements under the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (and are made pursuant to the 'safe harbour' provisions of such Act) and applicable Canadian securities legislation. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the expected closing of the proposed acquisition of M&I, plans for the acquired business and the impact of the acquisition and are typically identified by words such as "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "intend", "estimate", "plan", "will", "should", "may", "could" and other similar expressions.

By their nature, forward-looking statements are based on various assumptions and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties. We caution readers of this communication not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements as the assumptions underlying such statements may not turn out to be correct and a number of factors could cause actual future results, conditions, actions or events to differ materially from the targets, expectations, estimates or intentions expressed in the forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to: the possibility that the proposed transaction does not close when expected or at all because required regulatory, shareholder or other approvals and other conditions to closing are not received or satisfied on a timely basis or at all; the terms of the proposed transaction may need to be modified to satisfy such approvals or conditions; the anticipated benefits from the proposed transaction such as its potential impact on earnings, deposits and our North American presence are not realized in the time frame anticipated or at all as a result of changes in general economic and market conditions, interest and exchange rates, monetary policy, laws and regulations (including changes to capital requirements) and their enforcement, and the degree of competition in the geographic and business areas in which M&I operates; the ability to promptly and effectively integrate the businesses of M&I and BMO; reputational risks and the reaction of M&I's customers to the transaction; diversion of management time on merger-related issues; increased exposure to exchange rate fluctuations; and those other factors set out on pages 29 and 30 of BMO's 2010 Annual Report. A significant amount of M&I's business involves making loans or otherwise committing resources to specific companies, industries or geographic areas. Unforeseen events affecting such borrowers, industries or geographic areas could have a material adverse effect on the performance of our integrated U.S. operations.

BMO does not undertake to update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that may be made, from time to time, by the organization or on its behalf, except as required by law.

Additional information for shareholders

In connection with the proposed merger transaction, BMO has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission a Registration Statement on Form F-4 that includes a preliminary Proxy Statement of M&I, and a preliminary Prospectus of Bank of Montreal, as well as other relevant documents concerning the proposed transaction. Shareholders are urged to read the Registration Statement and the preliminary Proxy Statement/Prospectus regarding the merger, the definitive Proxy Statement/Prospectus when it becomes available and any other relevant documents filed with the SEC, as well as any amendments or supplements to those documents, because they will contain important information. A free copy of the preliminary Proxy Statement/Prospectus, as well as other filings containing information about BMO and M&I, may be obtained at the SEC's Internet site (http://www.sec.gov). You can also obtain these documents, free of charge, from BMO at www.BMO.com under the tab "About BMO - Investor Relations" and then under the heading "Frequently Accessed Documents", from BMO Investor Relations at investor.relations@bmo.com or 416-867-6642, from M&I by accessing M&I's website at www.MICorp.com under the tab "Investor Relations" and then under the heading "SEC Filings", or from M&I at (414) 765-7814.

BMO and M&I and certain of their directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the shareholders of M&I in connection with the proposed merger. Information about the directors and executive officers of BMO is set forth in the proxy statement for BMO's 2011 annual meeting of shareholders, as filed with the SEC on Form 6-K on February 25, 2011. Information about the directors and executive officers of M&I is set forth in the proxy statement for M&I's 2010 annual meeting of shareholders, as filed with the SEC on a Schedule 14A on March 12, 2010. Additional information regarding the interests of those participants and other persons who may be deemed participants in the transaction may be obtained by reading the above-referenced preliminary Proxy Statement/Prospectus and the definitive Proxy Statement/Prospectus when it becomes available. Free copies of this document may be obtained as described in the preceding paragraph.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group (TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO) is a highly diversified financial services organization. With total assets of $413 billion as at January 31, 2011, and 38,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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