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Bank of Sharjah and BNP Paribas in regulatory filing for partnership agreement in Lebanon

Emirates Lebanon Bank s.a.l (a fully-owned subsidiary of Bank of Sharjah), and BNP Paribas, have announced today filing for regulatory approval in relation with their contemplated partnership in Lebanon. As per agreements entered into between the parties and which remain subject to the approval of Banque du Liban (Central Bank of Lebanon), the UAE-based bank will be acquiring through its Lebanese subsidiary, Emirates Lebanon Bank s.a.l (previously Banque de la Bekaa s.a.l), the activities of the Lebanese branch of Banque Nationale de Paris Intercontinentale (a fully-owned subsidiary of BNP Paribas). Emirates Lebanon Bank s.a.l will be 81% owned by Bank of Sharjah with BNPI France holding the balance of 19%. A collaboration agreement between the Lebanese bank and BNP Paribas at the level of private banking and asset management is also being considered.

Through this acquisition by Emirates Lebanon Bank s.a.l, clients will be able to benefit from a continuing relationship with their bank as well as an enhanced offering of products and services. Management of operations will continue to be handled by staff seconded from BNP Paribas, while existing employees will be awarded a 3-year job protection scheme.

Varouj Nerguizian, Executive Director & General Manager of Bank of Sharjah, and Chairman & General Manager of Emirates Lebanon Bank s.a.l, disclosed that 30% of the capital of the Lebanese bank will be offered at a later stage to a select group of Gulf and Lebanese private investors subject to regulatory approval.

Bank of Sharjah had earlier declared its intention to gradually build a franchise throughout the Middle East region, and in this respect, raised lately the share capital of Emirates Lebanon Bank s.a.l to USD 50 million while injecting a cash contribution to capital of USD 100 million in order to boost equity to USD 150 million.

Today, the Lebanon operation is considered as a platform for the Bank of Sharjah's future expansion in the Levant where it intends to benefit from exceptionally strong synergies with its Gulf-based clientele.

BNPI has been present in Lebanon since 1944. It engages in commercial banking activities through a network of 5 branches. At end 2007, it boasted an asset base of around USD 850 million serving 13,500 individual clients and 1,300 corporates.

About BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas ( is a European leader in global banking and financial services and is one of the 4 strongest banks in the world according to Standard & Poor's. The group is present in over 85 countries, with more than 168,000 employees, including 129,500 in Europe. The group holds key positions in three major segments: Corporate and Investment Banking, Asset Management & Services and Retail Banking. Present throughout Europe in all of its business lines, the bank's two domestic markets in retail banking are France and Italy. BNP Paribas also has a significant presence in the United States and strong positions in Asia and the emerging markets.

About Bank of Sharjah
Bank of Sharjah ( was co-founded in 1973 by the Government of Sharjah, Paribas and the Mubarak Al Hassawi Group. It is the largest bank in the Emirate of Sharjah with shareholders' funds of around USD 1 billion as at March 31, 2008 against total assets of USD 3.4 billion prior to acquisition. In their July 2007 edition of the Top 1000 world banks, The Banker / Financial Times Business ranked Bank of Sharjah as no. 8 in the world in terms of return on assets, no. 15 in terms of soundness / capital asset ratio, and no. 45 in terms of performance / return on average capital. The bank is focused primarily on corporate banking and investment activities extended out of its 4 regional branches in Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Moreover, Fitch Ratings have recently reconfirmed Bank of Sharjah's Long-Term Issuer Default rating of A-, in recognition of the bank's consistently strong financial performance, asset quality, liquidity and capitalization.