February 29, 2008 10:13 ET

National Bank Unveils its Growth Strategy at its 2008 Annual Meeting

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Feb. 29, 2008) - National Bank of Canada (TSX:NA) held its Annual Meeting of Shareholders today in Montreal. Bank President and Chief Executive Officer, Louis Vachon, reported on the results for fiscal 2007 and highlighted the main areas of strategic focus that will guide the Bank's development over the next few years.

"Without the specified items for the year, net income would have reached a record $933 million, but was instead reduced to $541 million, mainly because of the commercial paper problem. This performance was unsatisfactory, but rest assured that management is doing everything necessary to restore the Bank to its position as one of the top performing financial institutions in the industry," stated Mr. Vachon.

On the subject of strategic development, the President outlined four goals that the Bank will be focusing on over the next five years:

- To become the best financial institution in the Quebec market

- To seize the right opportunities to accelerate its growth

- To match or exceed the average financial performance of its peers

- To maintain the balance among the interests of the groups responsible for its success

These goals will be realized over a period of 3 to 5 years. "Fiscal 2008 is already shaping up to be something of a transition period, particularly as regards our One client, one bank vision. Certain milestones, especially technological ones, will take longer to achieve, but we are making quick gains whenever possible in order to enhance the client experience," he added.

Mr. Vachon called for more openness from government with respect to bank mergers, pointing out that the Bank could be an important part of the solution in the event of a transaction between two of its competitors. Mergers would allow National Bank to extend its range of activities and have a more substantial presence outside Quebec.

"I believe that consolidation in the insurance industry illustrates the potential advantages of consolidation for the banking sector. In Canada, consolidation in life and health insurance has given rise to international players, while players with a more regional profile have prospered and stepped up growth across Canada."

A solid bank

Mr. Vachon reminded shareholders that the Bank is a solid, profitable and diversified financial group. Its strength was demonstrated again with the ABCP issue, a subject the President and Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors were eager to elaborate on.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, the Bank purchased the ABCP held by more than 250,000 individual and corporate clients for a total of $2.1 billion. In all 48 directors and officers who held ABCP benefited from the purchase transaction, in accordance with the guidelines established by the Independent Committee of the Board of Directors that was formed to handle this matter.

"The Independent Committee and your Board of Directors worked diligently to find creative solutions to an unexpected problem and did so in a balanced manner with respect to the interests of our company, its shareholders and its clients," assured Andre Caille, Chair of the Independent Committee.

"We remain deeply committed to finding a positive solution for our corporate and commercial clients that could not be reimbursed by taking the same proactive approach that the Bank has demonstrated since the events of last summer. All decisions in this matter have been made in good faith," added Louis Vachon.

At the Annual Meeting of Shareholders, the Bank officially launched a new distinctive brand signature, National Bank Financial Group, to accurately reflect what the institution has become over the years, namely, a group offering a complete line of financial solutions.

"This is where I, together with management and all employees, hope to lead the Bank in the coming years. Our goal is to be a bank that is ever more effective at serving the interests of clients and shareholders for the benefit of communities," concluded Mr. Vachon.

About National Bank of Canada

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 clients elsewhere in the world. The National Bank offers a full array of banking services, including retail, 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 $120 billion in assets and, together with its subsidiaries, employs 16,856 people. The Bank's securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:NA). For more information, visit the Bank's website at

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 Department