These accounts can t be right. Do the figures again!

The Gulf region branches returned excellent results right from their first years of operation, something that came as something of a surprise to Paribas general management.

Fran├žois Dauge recalls a humorous anecdote. When he submitted the financial figures for 1975 to the group s finance department, they came back with the order: Do your sums again, these figures can t be correct!

However, the figures, and the results they showed, were of course meticulously correct!

The Doha branch also played a major role financing imports into the country and in 1974, Paribas Doha import financing accounted for 12 percent of the country s total, a figure which was also achieved for the following two years.

Meanwhile in Sharjah, the founding of the Bank of Sharjah coincided with the start of oil production there. The bank provided financing to set up and develop a number of businesses, among them a cement factory.

Set-up in Oman, Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

The Paribas network again expanded in March 1975, with the opening of a branch in Muscat, in the Sultanate of Oman. The French presence in this oil-producing state was beginning to make its mark, and the office was inaugurated by H.H. Sayyid Thuwaini bin Shihab Al Said, Governor of Muscat, together with de Fouchier. Around this time, the Bank also received authorisation to set up in Bahrain, meaning more good news was celebrated in Paris.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the situation was specific. If the government had always encouraged foreign banks to open branches in the Kingdom, the new policy, implemented in 1976, was to convert foreign banks into publicly traded companies with the participation of Saudi nationals. Paribas choose to co-operate with the Pharaon and Mahfouz groups to set up a finance company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Similar restrictions in Kuwait led to the Bank also drawing up plans to establish a finance 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. Thus, by the end of 1975, Paribas had built up a substantial network in the Gulf States, with permanent establishments in Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat and Bahrain plus a financial stake in the Bank of Sharjah.

PARIBAS BROCHURE IN THE 1970 S PARIBAS, THE FIRST FRENCH

BANKING NETWORK IN THE ARABIC WORLD

PARIBAS PREMISES IN MUSCAT

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