Press Releases

National Bank sells the assets of three of its Abitibi branches to Desjardins Group

Montreal, 16 March 2004 -

National Bank of Canada and Desjardins Group today announced the conclusion of an agreement under which three National Bank branches in Abitibi will be transferred to Desjardins.

The deal, whose value has not been disclosed, involves the branches at Matagami, Senneterre and Lebel-sur-Quévillon. Only loan and deposit products are affected.

The two financial institutions have agreed to do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition for the bank accounts of customers who bank at the branches concerned.

"This is a business decision for National Bank. We are maintaining our presence in the region with eight other branches and will continue to provide a full line of financial, brokerage and insurance products to all our retail and commercial customers," stated Kathleen Zicat, Vice-President, Laval and Northern and Western Quebec.

"We are very pleased to welcome the customers of these three National Bank branches to our network," exclaimed André Talbot, Desjardins' Vice-President for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue – nord du Québec region. "We are confident that they will find that the Desjardins staff is highly qualified and that we offer a vast array of products and services that are certain to meet all their needs."

About the National Bank

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 customers elsewhere in the world. The 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 nearly $81 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 www.nbc.ca.

About Desjardins Group

Desjardins Group is an integrated cooperative financial group. With over 5 million members and clients and overall assets of close to $100 billion as at December 31, 2003, it is the largest financial institution in Québec and the sixth-largest in Canada. It comprises a network of caisses and corporate financial centres in Québec and Ontario, and twenty subsidiary companies, many of which are active across the country. Having pioneered the integrated offer of products and services in Canada, Desjardins provides its members and clients, both individuals and businesses, with a full range of financial products and services. Desjardins' physical distribution network is seconded by virtual access modes like www.desjardins.com the most visited financial Web site in the province, and the third-most visited in Canada. Desjardins' strength lies in the skill and commitment of close to 39,000 employees and 8,000 volunteer officers.

Information: (The telephone number and e-mail address provided below are for the exclusive use of journalists and other media representatives.)

Denis Dubé
Manager, Public Relations Department
National Bank of Canada
Tel.: (514) 394-8644
E-mail: denis.dube@nbc.ca

André Chapleau
Director – Media Relations
Mouvement Desjardins
Tel.: 1-866-866-7000, ext. 7229
(514) 281-7229
E-mail: medias@desjardins.com