oil exporter. The pair met high ranking officials, including H.E. Abdul Rahman Al-Ateeqi, Minister of Finance and Petroleum, Dr Rashed Al-Rashed, under-secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Abdul Aziz Al-Sagar, President of the Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of the trip was to position Paribas as a channel for investment on behalf of Kuwaiti authorities. This was not straightforward as Paribas found itself faced with strong competition from other French banks, among them Crédit Lyonnais, BFCE41, and also BNP, which was placing Eurobond issues with Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian investors.

De Kémoularia and Michel François-Poncet also discussed various options with Abdlatif Yousef Al-Hamad, director general of the Kuwait Fund for Economic Development, in London, including forthcoming international bond issuances, noting that this would probably be the best way for Paribas to embark on financial relations with the Kuwaiti authorities.

In the 1970s, Paribas strategy in the Gulf had three objectives. The first objective was to channel Arab investments into major French and other European companies, the idea being to offer stakes of 1-5 percent in the equity of these companies.

The second thrust was to encourage Arab investors to take strategic shareholdings in major French and European industrial concerns, in this case a larger stake of 10-40 percent of a company or a major project. Paribas Arab partners insisted, however, that this second approach was only viable where the company in question had strong industrial or commercial interests in Arab countries.

The third facet of Paribas strategy was to attract European capital into major infrastructure or development projects in the Middle East.

Kuwait offered great potential, both from an industrial and a financial viewpoint, but Paribas found that poor performance in many global stock markets had dissuaded many Kuwaitis from investing in foreign securities. However, local businesses, whether industrial, financial or in the real estate market, often held out attractive returns and were sometimes more popular among Kuwaitis.

Paribas also drew up plans to establish a financial company in conjunction with local interests. Paribas would take on the management of the company, which would operate along similar lines to a bank, the distinction being that it would not be allowed to take deposits from the general public.

In late 1980s, the Bank forged relations with the Kuwait Investment Authority through various multifaceted areas of businesses, including asset and cash management.

41. Banque Française du Commerce Extérieur. Established by the French government in 1946, BFCE s mission was to help finance foreign trade deals. BFCE was taken over by Crédit national in 1995, and later the two financial institutions merged to become Natexis.

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