Annual General Meeting – Louis Vachon stresses the importance of entrepreneurship and business transfers

Montreal, 30 March 2011 - 

In order to maintain a strong business ownership culture, social and economic players need to promote entrepreneurship and the smooth transfer of businesses. That was one of the messages conveyed by Louis Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Bank of Canada, at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders held earlier today in Montreal.

“Our ability to help new business owners thrive and ensure a successful transfer of their business when the time comes will have a direct impact on the ownership culture that we have spent so much time building and want to preserve. We will be devoting a lot of effort and energy to this strategy over the next few years in order to encourage entrepreneurship in finance and other sectors.” Louis Vachon went on to say that 40% of the Bank’s business clients will have to transfer their business in the next 10 years.

Last year, the Bank not only provided support to the École d’entrepreneurship de Beauce and Finance Montréal, Quebec’s financial cluster, but also committed to continue actively supporting its business clients’ development projects and guiding entrepreneurs through the business transfer process. In fact, it handled over 75 business transfer files in 2010.

National Bank Financial Group continues to stand out for its support of social and economic development. In 2010, the Group and its employees continued to improve the quality of life for the underprivileged through large-scale fundraising campaigns. For example, $2.8 million was donated to United Way/Centraide, $1.3 million to the Canadian Red Cross to assist victims of the earthquake in Haiti, and $520,000 to the Clubs des petits déjeuners du Québec and the Breakfast Clubs of Canada.

Every year, the Financial Group donates millions of dollars to hundreds of Canadian organizations in support of education, health, the arts and community outreach through its donations and sponsorships program.

It intends to further strengthen its role as a key driver of social and economic development in 2011, in particular by continuing to deploy its One client, one bank initiative. One of the priorities for the next fiscal year is to further solidify the Financial Group’s ability to offer a full range of products and services to its clients in a simple and effective way.

In fiscal 2010, the Bank posted record net income of $1,084 million, excluding specified items, and diluted earnings per share reached $6.25. Furthermore, the Group became the first major Canadian bank to increase its dividend after the financial crisis. Through prudent risk management, the organization has sustained the superior quality of its credit portfolio, and its Tier 1 capital ratio and level of cash resources are among the best in the industry.

The Financial Group has also been recognized for its commitment to its employees, by ranking among the 50 Best Employers in Canada for 2011 (sixth year), the Best Employers in the GTA, Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures (a finalist in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces), and Montreal’s Top Employers.    

About National Bank of Canada
National Bank of Canada is an integrated group that 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 $152 billion in assets and, together with its subsidiaries, employs 18,407 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. To access National Bank Financial Group’s financial education portal, visit www.clearfacts.ca.

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

Claude Breton
Senior Manager – Public Affairs
National Bank Financial Group
Tel.: 514-394-8644