At the same time, BNP also enjoyed early successes in Kuwait. In 1973, BNP took the decision to participate in the establishment of the Compagnie Arabe et Internationale d Investissements (CAII) alongside 25 other banks and financial institutions. The CAII was a financial holding company based in Luxembourg, which set up the Banque Arabe et Internationale d Investissements (International and Arab Investment Bank), in which half the capital was held by Arab concerns. This new bank, in contrast to the Union des Banques Arabes et Françaises (UBAF) in which Crédit Lyonnais had taken a stake, eschewed the status of a traditional deposit-taking bank.

The non-Arab shareholders in CAII were BNP, Banque Nationale de Paris Intercontinentale, Société financière européenne, Banco Central, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Oesterreichische Länderbank and the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS). The Arab shareholders included the Kuwait Investment Company, the Government of Abu Dhabi, Bank of Kuwait & The Middle East, Banque du Liban et d Outre-mer, Banque nationale de Tunisie, National Commercial Bank and Union Bancaire pour le commerce et l industrie.

The President of CAII was Abdlatif Al Hamad, Managing Director of the Kuwait Investment Company. Pierre Ledoux, President of BNP, acted as Vice-President.

At the time, BNP President Pierre Ledoux explained the raison d être of CAII as follows: CAII is basically a service company which acts as a catalyst, generating opportunities for the various financial institutions. While endeavouring to provide opportunities for Arab capital to invest in European countries, it will also continue to promote investment in the Middle East and other developing countries.

In 1980, BNP acquired a 22 percent share in the Arab European Financial Management Company (AREF), a financial company based in Kuwait, to facilitate the provision of financing to its clients in the region. In the spring of 1985, BNP President René Thomas travelled to Kuwait to meet the directors and partners of AREF.

Just a few months after this trip, on 9 December 1985, the OPEC countries agreed to considerably lower the price of oil in order to boost demand, a move designed to help them meet their under-utilised production capacity and regain some lost export market

RENÉ THOMAS, CEO OF BNP, VISITS KUWAIT BRANCH,

OCTOBER 1985

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