continued and higher-level dialogue between Bank representatives and the monetary agencies.
Similarly, in 1974, when Paribas President, Jacques de Fouchier, made the Kingdom his first stop on a tour of the Gulf States, establishing a branch there was not on the agenda. Instead he focused on cementing relations with the country s highest authorities, and was granted the honour of an audience with H.H. King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
BNP also had an active presence in the Kingdom s financial services industry at this time. In 1975, it became one of the founding shareholders of the Saudi International Bank Limited, which was established in London but majority-owned by the Kingdom. In addition, BNP President, Pierre Ledoux, attended a meeting of the Board of Directors of the International and Arab Investment Bank in Jeddah in 1976, meeting with financial authorities and representatives of the Kingdom s main banks to seal agreements aimed at facilitating transactions between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and France.
Establishment of the Riyadh commercial branch
The fruit of BNP Paribas early and sustained efforts to develop relations with the Kingdom became fully evident in 2004, when it was granted a universal banking license by the SAMA, making it one of the first foreign banks to receive such an endorsement. This achievement was all the more remarkable in that it required a special dispensation from the Kingdom s Council of Ministers to hold 100 percent share, as foreign banks are typically only allowed to set up in the Kingdom in association with local investors. It was another occasion when the strength of the Group s relationships came to the fore; this was resolved in an audience granted by H.H. Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to the French ambassador, accompanied by the Group s head of international trade, Jacques Desponts.
Following the visit of prominent government officials to Paris in late 2004, which allowed the assessment of the Group s control and compliance mechanisms, Michel Dubois and Mohamed Bakkal were appointed Country Head and Chief Operating Officer (COO), respectively, of the Group s Saudi operations. The BNP Paribas Riyadh branch was officially inaugurated in Faisaliah Tower in 2005, in a ceremony that testified to the significance the Group and the Kingdom s authorities attached to the new venture. BNP Paribas Chief Executive Officer, Baudouin Prot, attended the event alongside the SAMA Governor, H.E. Mr Hamad Al-Sayari, with SAMA Vice-Governor, H.E. Dr. Mohamed Al-Jasser.
INAUGURATION OF BNP PARIBAS RIYADH BRANCH IN THE KINGDOM OF
SAUDI ARABIA, 23 OCTOBER 2005
H.E. MR. HAMAD AL-SAYARI, GOVERNOR OF THE SAUDI ARABIAN
MONETARY AGENCY (2ND FROM LEFT) AND BAUDOUIN PROT (CENTER)
174 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