National Bank 2007 Annual Meeting of Shareholders: Solid underpinnings for continued growth

Montreal, 7 March 2007 - 

National Bank of Canada today held its Annual Meeting of Shareholders at which its top two executives, Réal Raymond, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Louis Vachon, Chief Operating Officer, reported on the results of the 2006 fiscal year and the first quarter of 2007, characterized by balance and diversification.

“Since the beginning of 2002, the Bank’s stock market valuation has doubled. Today it stands at more than $10 billion. For shareholders, this has meant a more-than-attractive return on their investment. In fact, taking into account reinvested dividends, the Bank’s share price increased an average of 24% over the past five years,” stated Mr. Raymond.

A strong position for the future
“We have the ability to attain the same level of excellence in the future,” indicated Mr. Raymond. “The six key factors that have contributed to the success we have seen in recent years are still relevant today. They are: our leading market position in Quebec, our targeted operations outside Quebec, client satisfaction assured by a quality offering, economies of scope by offering a large, varied range of products, excellent capitalization, and partnerships to increase revenue and decrease costs.”

“The key factors in business development have the greatest impact when they are underpinned by a constant search for balance among the different stakeholders – employees, clients and shareholders,” Mr. Raymond emphasized.

The President added that the banking industry’s contribution to the economy must grow. He explained that he saw no reason why Canadian banks should be prevented from competing fully with insurers. “And yet,” he pointed out, “banks are still not permitted to make full use of their expertise in designing and distributing insurance products, even though allowing them to do so would result in better access, reduced costs and continuous innovation.”

Mr. Raymond, who will be stepping down in June, thanked the members of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, as well as the Bank’s employees, for their support throughout his mandate. “Through its privileged position in Quebec and its ability to profitably tap selected markets outside the province, the Bank has contributed, in distinctive ways, to the evolution of Canada’s financial services industry.”

Enviable results
Louis Vachon, Chief Operating Officer and Mr. Raymond’s designated successor, commented on the excellent financial results for fiscal 2006 and the first quarter of 2007, underscoring that the Bank had posted record net income of $871 million in 2006 and reached or surpassed all financial objectives it had set at the beginning of the fiscal year. He added that growth was “continuing at a solid pace” in the first quarter of 2007, with net income reaching a quarterly record of approximately $240 million.

Mr. Vachon thanked the Board of Directors for the confidence they had shown in him by appointing him Chief Executive Officer the previous summer. He indicated that he had taken the opportunity in recent months to immerse himself in the issues that influence the development of the Bank’s retail and SME business, while benefiting from Mr. Raymond’s support and experience.

Highlighting the priceless legacy that Mr. Raymond had left him, Mr. Vachon stated  “the Bank boasts a solid management team, has a clearly defined strategy and is in sound financial health,” and that Mr. Raymond “has consistently advocated seeking balance between financial performance, employee aspirations and client satisfaction,” adding that “this concept is now front and centre in the decisions we make. Moreover, from my privileged vantage point, I’ve seen how much the balance between what I call our three core areas of expertise, by which I mean the competencies grouped under Personal and Commercial, Wealth Management and Financial Markets, has been strengthened in the past few years.”

Mr. Vachon concluded his presentation by saying that the Bank’s wealth of expertise and strong brand image in Quebec would enable it to penetrate deeper into existing markets and carve out new ones over the next few years in order to continue to fulfill its role as a key driver of economic development in the province.

“I approach these new challenges with tremendous confidence,” he told the Bank’s shareholders, adding that he would be using all of his talent to merit their trust and to rally the entire Bank behind ambitious objectives.

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 16,908 people. The Bank’s securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (NA:TSX). For more information, visit the Bank’s website at
www.nbc.ca.

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

Denis Dubé
Director – Public Relations
National Bank of Canada
Tel.: (514) 394-8644