March 02, 2005 12:27 ET

National Bank Knows How to Seize Opportunities




MARCH 2, 2005 - 12:27 ET

National Bank Knows How to Seize Opportunities

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - March 2, 2005) - At the Annual Meeting
of Shareholders held today, Real Raymond, President and Chief Executive
Officer of National Bank of Canada, gave examples of how the Bank has
further strengthened its position by seeing and seizing opportunities in
the markets where it operates.

The numbers bear this out. Since 1999, earnings per share have risen by
80% from $2.28 to $4.10 in the fiercely competitive and fast-changing
financial industry. In addition, the Bank's dividend more than doubled
during the same period, from $0.70 to $1.42. As for the Bank's
price/earnings ratio, it went from 7.9 times earnings per share to 11.9.
Over the same five-year period, the Bank's share price climbed from
$17.90 to $48.78, for an increase of 173%, the largest gain of all the
major banks.

By executing its action plan of a super-regional bank in a professional,
thorough and disciplined manner and by delivering the expected results,
"the Bank has caught the attention of financial markets and strengthened
their confidence in our ability to meet their increasingly demanding
expectations," noted Mr. Raymond.

Initiatives that are yielding solid results

In recent years, National Bank has implemented an action plan that has
redefined the entire organization. "Since 1999, we have diversified our
revenues, which have expanded at an average annual rate of 8%," recalled
the President and CEO. We have also cleaned up our loan portfolio and,
in the process, significantly reduced our provision for credit losses.
As for our productivity, we have proven year after year that we can be
as efficient as larger institutions. All of these achievements have
paved the way for average growth in net income of 11.7% over five
years," explained Mr. Raymond.

Initiatives aimed at improving customer satisfaction, engaging employees
and enhancing efficiency have also contributed to the Bank's performance.

Staying on course and capitalizing on our strengths

In accordance with its vision, the Bank will actively pursue its
business plan by staying on course to meet its main objectives and
further developing the strategies already underway.

The Bank will continue to concentrate on the most immediate
opportunities, both in terms of its areas of expertise and geographical
markets. Profitability will remain the primary concern whether growth is
achieved organically or through acquisitions.

For the President and CEO, banking operations and wealth management are
some of the avenues of growth the Bank intends to further explore. The
performance of our branch sales force, and the increased presence of
financial planners in particular, combined with innovative products such
as the new "All-In-One" mortgage option, has enabled the Bank to achieve
in 2004 objectives originally set for 2006.

In addition, the success of banking distribution agreements with
partners confirmed the potential of these agreements to penetrate other
Canadian markets. What's more, as Quebec's leading bank for SMEs,
National Bank is ideally positioned to manage the personal holdings of

To serve its commercial clientele, the Bank deployed a network of
deposit account managers and introduced the new "BusinessFlex"
solutions, transaction services specially designed to meet the needs of
small businesses and the self-employed. The Bank also launched a
specialized financing unit for the promising health sector. In Ontario
and Western Canada, strong growth in loans to the energy sector and farm
and agri-food operations is further proof that the Bank is seizing real
opportunities in select markets.

The financial markets sector is another area where we intend to deepen
our presence. "After strengthening our corporate financing activities,
making acquisitions and adding new expertise in areas such as
alternative management and credit derivatives, we have built a balanced
portfolio that enables us to tap into the many different opportunities
financial markets have to offer," remarked Mr. Raymond.

In closing, Mr. Raymond shared the Bank's vision statement with
shareholders, adding that it reaffirms the core values that motivate all
those who contribute to the Bank's success. Accordingly, this vision
states that "National Bank of Canada seeks to be recognized as a
prosperous, efficient and progressive financial institution renowned for
its leadership, innovation and service quality that builds on its
position of strength in Quebec to continue its expansion elsewhere in
Canada and in other select markets."

In the spirit of the vision statement, the Bank is committed to
achieving its ambitions, offering its clients superior service by an
engaged workforce and meeting the high expectations of its shareholders.

About National Bank

National Bank of Canada is an integrated group which provides
comprehensive financial services to consumers, small and medium-sized
enterprises and large corporations in its core market, while offering
specialized services to its customers elsewhere in the world. National
Bank offers a full array of banking services, including corporate and
investment banking. It is an active player on international capital
markets and, through its subsidiaries, is involved in securities
brokerage, insurance and wealth management, as well as mutual fund and
retirement plan management. National Bank has more than $90 billion in
assets and, together with its subsidiaries, employs close to 17,000
people. The Bank's securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange
(NA:TSX). For more information, visit the Bank's website at

Information: (The telephone number provided below is for the exclusive
use of journalists and other media representatives).


Contact Information

    National Bank of Canada
    Denis Dube
    Director - Public Relations
    (514) 394-8644