The Kingdom of Bahrain: Building Solid Foundations

Introduction

The Kingdom of Bahrain s leading role in economic diversification in the Gulf region and its well-developed financial services infrastructure make the country strategically important for BNP Paribas.

The Bank has had a permanent presence in Bahrain since 1975, and deepened the relationship further by establishing its regional hub for the Gulf in Bahrain s capital, Manama, in 2001.

Senior-level links date back to the late 1960s, when H.H. Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, then Emir of Bahrain, led a delegation to France to strengthen commercial and financial relations between the two countries.

The visit set in motion a series of meetings between executives from Paribas and senior officials of Bahrain that led to the establishment of a full commercial branch in 1975, and granting of an offshore banking license in 1978. Banque Nationale de Paris followed suit, also setting up a branch in Bahrain in 1976 with an offshore license.

After the merger between BNP and Paribas in 2000, the combined bank, BNP Paribas, chose Bahrain as its regional headquarters for an extensive network across the Gulf. The regional headquarters opened in 2001, and in line with organisational changes, became the headquarters for the Middle East and South Africa in 2010, and subsequently in 2011, for the Middle East and Africa as a whole for Corporate & Investment Banking.

Speaking in a media interview in February 2013, Jean-Christophe Durand, CEO, Middle East & Africa for Corporate & Investment Banking, underlined how important the regional headquarters were to BNP Paribas at a time when many global banks were scaling back regional operations:

We are not retrenching from the region. We are in nearly 80 countries and being in these countries generates flows, synergies and networks. We want to preserve the global reach we have. What we will change is the way we do business within the new banking environment. When people used to talk about BNP Paribas in the region, they used to

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