High-quality infrastructure, including the telecommunications network; A well-educated population; A highly convenient time zone which enabled same-day contact with the markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe and New York.

There was, however, another reason why BNP favoured Bahrain. The vigilance exercised by the Bahrain Monetary Agency had given international credibility to banking activities carried out in the Kingdom and in addition, the agency, which functioned as both central bank and banking supervisory authority, gave BNP a clear indication that it wished to see the Bank set up in Bahrain in order to develop its treasury operations market.

From the BNP management s point of view, Bahrain was quickly becoming the main banking centre for the wider Middle East region, providing a solid Arab and regional platform, notwithstanding the rather low volume of transactions in local Gulf currencies. BNP received an offshore banking license shortly after the application was submitted, and gained authorisation on 25 November 1975. Operations commenced on 1 April 1976, with Eugene Doyle as manager.

The BNP Bahrain branch was mainly dealing with treasury operations carried out with other banking institutions in the region, but also undertook some traditional lending. Although relatively small in terms of volume, it actually proved to be a profitable business.

BNP s hope was that Bahrain branch would serve as a regional hub and even as an operational base for the entire Middle East. It was envisioned to take over from the Beirut branch, where at that point activity had virtually ceased.

Pierre Ledoux s 1976 trip

BNP President Pierre Ledoux paid a visit to the Gulf in February 1976, where, as well as attending a meeting of the Board of Directors of the International and Arab Investment Bank in Jeddah, he met the financial authorities and representatives of major banks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The objective of these meetings was for BNP to conclude agreements with Saudi banks, facilitating the export of capital equipment by French manufacturers.

BNP s 1977 analysis

A report from the BNP Inspection Générale (internal audit) department, following a visit in October 1977, showed that the Bank was extremely satisfied with the performance of Bahrain operations. Given the geographical area and resources of the countries in the region, plus the level of competition in the banking sector, it might be advisable to amplify the rollout of the Manama branch activities to the neighbouring countries by setting up, along lines still to be decided, permanent representations in Saudi Arabia and in Dubai or

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