share. However, the decision coincided with lower overall world demand, and resulted in a substantial drop in OPEC oil revenues.
As a result of this economic shift, the Gulf States introduced a raft of budgetary control measures and either postponed or cancelled a number of development projects. As state spending was the main source of economic activity in the region, the measures in turn led to a substantial economic slowdown. These events and the reaction to them prompted BNP to concentrate on other areas of business, namely wealth management and investment consultancy.
Due to the combined efforts of BNP and Paribas to build strong relations with Kuwait, the stage was now set for the newly-merged company, BNP Paribas, to secure its official operating license from Kuwait s Council of Ministers in August 2004. This achievement was a genuine milestone, the first of its kind by any foreign bank, and established the trajectory of the remarkable and enduring partnership with the country that was to follow.
The new BNP Paribas branch in Kuwait was set up with capital reserves for operations that had to be placed if the branch was going to generate income. The Bank quickly seized on the county s opportunities. In fact, the Group s first transaction took place just days after BNP Paribas official listing in the Register of Banks.
Philippe Aroyo, Head of Territory, recalled his time in Kuwait: I remember that BNP Paribas was extremely proud to have been the first foreign bank granted a license to operate a branch in the country. That was quite an honour. We were thankful to the local authorities not only for their confidence in us, but also for their continuous support and guidance.
After the office opened, BNP Paribas relationship with Kuwait strengthened considerably. In September 2005, the Kuwaiti Prime Minister, H.H. Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, went to Paris as the head of a large Kuwaiti delegation comprising several ministers, the President of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Managing Director of the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) and several leading figures from the business world. During the visit, he was welcomed at BNP Paribas headquarters by Chairman, Michel Pébereau, and Chief Executive, Baudouin Prot.
In October 2005, the staff of BNP Paribas Kuwait moved into new premises in the Dar Al-Awadi Complex. Some months later in the spring of 2006, Michel Pébereau visited Kuwait and officially opened the Bank s new home, unveiling a commemoration plaque to mark the first anniversary of operations. At the ceremony he stressed that, BNP Paribas is proud to be the first foreign bank licensed and registered at the Central Bank of Kuwait.
Toward the end of the year in November, Emir H.H. Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah flew to Paris on an official visit intended to further relations between Kuwait
152 T H E H I S T O R Y O F B N P PA R I B A S I N T H E G U L F S TAT E S