Jacques de Fouchier also offers his praise to de Kémoularia s efforts. The key difference in our approach was without doubt to decide, before the choice actually became totally obvious, that the oil-producing countries were the most appropriate initial targets in terms of how the world was evolving, as well as being suited to our own specific characteristics. Nevertheless, in order to implement our strategy we still had to obtain the necessary authorisation from the local authorities to establish the Bank, he said.

In the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf Emirates, where we had decided to embark on our new venture, we had been hoping to benefit from local sentiments that might be expected to favour French companies. However, we found ourselves having to overcome the exact opposite, which was sometimes encouraged by government advisors working for British banks that had been in the region for a long time and whose monopoly we were likely to challenge.

In these circumstances, the savoir-faire of Claude de Kémoularia, who had been appointed as Foreign Affairs Advisor by my predecessor and whom I had retained in the post, played a decisive role. It was certainly due to him that Paribas obtained, one year before the 1973 oil crisis, the necessary authorisations to open a branch or subsidiary in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai. Sharjah, Oman and Kuwait followed suit.

We were therefore soon established all over the Gulf and found ourselves the only continental European bank with this kind of presence. The 1973 oil crisis confirmed that we had made the right choice. The following oil shock and the unheard-of financial resources that it brought to the region spurred our fortunate success even further. The contribution it made to our consolidated earnings was extremely satisfactory, especially in relation to the capital we had originally invested and the number of staff we had taken on. 31

BNP s strategy

BNP: Between alliances and consortium banks

In 1973, BNP made the decision to participate in the establishment of the Compagnie Arabe et Internationale d Investissements (CAII) alongside 25 other banks and financial institutions. CAII was a financial holding company based in Luxembourg, and 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, did not adopt the status of a traditional deposit-taking bank. CAII was a Luxembourg- domiciled company with capital of US$30 million. Its objective was to bring together, on an equal basis, Arab interests and international banks with a view to promoting project financing in Arab countries as well as providing opportunities to participate in financial

31. From La banque et la vie (A Banker s Life), by Jacques de Fouchier, Editions Odile Jacob, 1989, p.225

63B N P PA R I B A S I N T H E G U L F S TAT E S A N D I T S C O N T R I B U T I O N T O T H E E C O N O M Y O F T H E R E G I O N