Annual Meeting of Shareholders - National Bank Financial Group: a Winning Strategy Making its Way - $42 billion in debt financing approved for some 40,000 businesses

Montreal, 31 March 2010 - 

Following the progress it made in 2009, National Bank Financial Group is staying the course for its long-term priorities in order to create shareholder value and better meet client expectations while counting on employee commitment.

In 2009, various objectives were met, particularly in client service.   Eloquent proof that National Bank Financial Group is by far the leading partner of businesses in Quebec, nearly $42 billion in debt financing was approved for some 40,000 businesses in 2009.

We believe our current strategic direction is perfectly in tune with an environment of slow growth in a mature market and we are determined to press ahead with our plans”, said Louis Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Bank Financial Group, at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders held today in Montreal.

Outlook and priorities for 2010
In fiscal 2010, the Financial Group plans to leverage the new distribution model implemented in 2009 to increase revenues in all segments by attracting new business and growing its share of wallet with existing clients. It will also continue to make major investments in the branch network and employee training to meet expected objectives.

The Financial Group will complete the simplification and standardization of internal processes and gradually deploy a new information technology platform for client-facing employees. Once implemented, the systems will enable the Financial Group to reach new heights in managing digital information, primarily all client-related data. These projects are intended to generate immediate gains in client satisfaction, sales growth and cost cutting.

Another priority for 2010 is to continue to reinforce a culture of cooperation and accountability.  According to Mr. Vachon, this also means to continue working together and making the necessary adjustments to ensure that nothing stands in the way of client service excellence.

Significant results in 2009
In Personal and Commercial Banking, branches became the focal point of contact with clients under the new distribution model. Hundreds of positions were added, and major investments in training were made. The Financial Group also launched a three-year branch upgrade program and completed the renovation and relocation of 39 branches and the replacement of most of its banking machines.

In Wealth Management, the Financial Group created Private Wealth 1859, a dedicated team to serve high-net-worth individuals. Over the year, the Financial Group also strengthened its portfolio of financial solutions and products and tightened cooperation with other Bank divisions and third parties to optimize distribution. The Financial Markets sector recorded appreciable growth in revenues and in the number of products and services per client.

At the corporate level, $100 million in savings was generated by reorganizing functions, renegotiating supplier contracts and creating shared service centres. Diluted earnings per share of $6.22, excluding specified items, were the highest in the Bank’s history, demonstrating the strength of the Group in uncertain times. Through prudent risk management, the Group sustained the outstanding quality of its credit portfolio and maintained a strong capital base and liquidity position.

Partner of economic and social development
Despite the difficult economic situation, the Financial Group continued to show leadership in economic and social development. With staffing at a record level of 17,747 employees, $1.5 billion was paid out in salaries and benefits, in addition to the $12 million invested in training.

For the fifth straight year, through a major fundraising campaign in branches and a corporate donation, the Financial Group netted $400,000 on behalf of the Breakfast Clubs of Canada and the Club des petits déjeuners du Québec. In January 2010, the Our Hearts are with Haiti campaign enabled the Financial Group to donate close to $1.3 million to the Canadian Red Cross to help the earthquake victims.

In 2010, through its major partnership with Tennis Canada, the Financial Group becomes the title sponsor of the Toronto Rogers Cup in addition to the Montreal tournament. The Financial Group is also a close partner of the Montreal Canadiens by leading the banking syndicate responsible for financing the hockey Club and joining the group of investors, led by the Molson brothers, that purchased the Canadiens, Bell Centre and the Gillett Entertainment Group.

The Financial Group also contributes millions of dollars to hundreds of Canadian organizations in the fields of education, health, the arts and community outreach through its donations and sponsorships program.

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. 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 over $134 billion in assets and, together with its subsidiaries, employs 17,946 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
Senior Manager, Public Relations
National Bank Financial Group
Tel.: 514-394-8644