Jacques de Fouchier s trip, March 1975

In 1975, Paribas President Jacques de Fouchier travelled to the Gulf for a two-leg trip, which was to include high-level meetings in the UAE and Oman. The first stop was in Dubai, where he was received by the Emir, H.H. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. De Fouchier then continued to Muscat, the capital of Oman, for the inauguration on 15 March, of Paribas new branch in the city. At the accompanying reception, de Fouchier hosted many leading figures, among them the French Ambassador Mejid Kebaili, H.H. Sayyid Abbas bin Faisal Al Said, H.H. Sayyid Thuwaini bin Shihab Al Said, Personal Advisor to the Sultan and Governor of Muscat, and H.E. Qais Zawawi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Inauguration of the Bahrain branch, October 1975

The official opening of the Bahrain branch took place on 21 October 1975. Paribas Chief Executive Officer Pierre Moussa attended the event alongside Claude de Kémoularia and Hubert de Saint-Amand. During the trip, the Paribas delegation met the Emir of Bahrain, H.H. Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and H.R.H. Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister.

December 1975 visits

A few months after Moussa s trip to the Gulf region, the Bank arranged a further mission to Kuwait and Bahrain with a view to developing business there. Paribas strategy was taking shape on the ground, through the successive opening of branches, and had three objectives. The first was to channel purely financial Arab investment 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 objective was to encourage Arab investors to take strategic shareholdings in major French/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 part of Paribas strategy was to attract European capital into major infrastructure or development projects in the Gulf States.

Kuwait, in particular, offered the greatest 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 often more popular among Kuwaitis. The Kuwait government was also much more enthusiastic on developing projects at home, the feeling being that they would bring a good return, focus on the market in the Arab peninsula and create high added value. Kuwait offered many advantages for this approach, including free land, low-cost energy and 10 or 15-year loans at 5 percent interest from the Industrial Bank of Kuwait, which was

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