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BNP Paribas and FinanCités (PlaNet Finance group) join forces to support growth of enterprises in underprivileged neighbourhoods

FinanCités, a community-development venture-capital company, devoted to financing neighbourhood Very Small Enterprises (Très Petites Entreprises - TPE) and a subsidiary of the PlaNet Finance group, announces that BNP Paribas has purchased a stake in its capital.

To support FinanCités in its growth, BNP Paribas has agreed to subscribe for a maximum stake of 1 million euros in its capital, thereby joining other financial institutions that are already founding shareholders of FinanCités. The memorandum of understanding signed by BNP Paribas also stipulates that the group will have a seat on the Supervisory Board of FinanCités, to be occupied by Marie-Françoise Walbaum, manager of BNP Paribas Principal Investments.

BNP Paribas and FinanCités are also initiating a mentoring partnership: BNP Paribas is actively involved in identifying coaches from its association of retirees or from among its employees, who will be able, on a volunteer basis, to support the entrepreneurs financed by FinanCités in managing and growing their businesses.

Since its creation in 2007, FinanCités has granted equity financing to 21 neighbourhood small enterprises for a total commitment amount of one million euros (average amount 50,000 euros per TPE ). Those investments have enabled young enterprises, in very diverse business sectors, to grow and thereby contribute to the vitality of the local economy and the creation of jobs in their areas .

According to Jean-François Vaucel, Chairman of the Management Board of FinanCités, "the BNP Paribas purchase of a stake in FinanCités strengthens the fund's expertise, professionalism and intervention capabilities. It is a decisive factor in the expansion of FinanCités activity in favour of local TPEs."

With the support of BNP Paribas, FinanCités aims to finance 40 TPEs in 2009 throughout the territory.

"The presence of BNP Paribas in suburbs is strong because we are a bank that is particularly well positioned in the cities and also we already have a long tradition of community involvement. So this agreement once again strengthens our commitment to business creation, which corresponds to a strong desire to manifest the social responsibility of the bank", Georges Chodron de Courcel, Chief Operating Officer of BNP Paribas, said on this occasion.

About FinanCités
Created in 2007 by PlaNet Finance, FinanCités is a community-development venture-capital company whose mission is to support neighbourhood TPEs (Très Petites Entreprises – Very Small Enterprises) by providing them with additional financing to grow. By providing its financial aid to developing businesses, FinanCités seeks to contribute to the growth and survival of neighbourhood small enterprises, creation of jobs, vitalization of the local economy and, overall, and improvement in living conditions in those neighbourhoods. FinanCités adds to the existing methods of financing of French TPEs by offering interventions in equity and quasi-equity and by being oriented primarily toward development capital.
The main shareholders of FinanCités include HSBC bank, Caisse des Dépôts, Club du XXIe Siècle, Mme Taittinger, and the Evens Foundation.

About PlaNet Finance
PlaNet Finance is an international non-profit organisation whose mission is to fight poverty through the development of microfinance. Based in Paris, PlaNet Finance is active in more than 60 countries with an international network of 38 offices. Over the past 10 years, PlaNet Finance has supported 1,500 microfinance institutions that financed more than 9 million people.

BNP Paribas and Microfinance
Capitalising on its experience since 1993 in microfinance in France and in several African countries, BNP Paribas decided in 2006 to create a microfinance activity at the group level. Two years after the launch of that activity, BNP Paribas is among the ten large bank players in microfinance throughout the world. That entity, which is housed at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, with a horizontal orientation, acts through the offices of the international network.
The main area of development is the refinancing, in local currency, of microfinance institutions in the territories where the bank is present. Those institutions, facing strong growth, have sizeable needs for credit to expand their activity and increase their social impact. By 2010, the goal of BNP Paribas is to develop partnerships with about thirty institutions in about fifteen countries. The expected social impact is to affect several million beneficiaries, through our partners, thereby helping to improve their standard of living and particularly the status of women (80% of borrowers are women).
BNP Paribas can capitalise on already significant international experience in microcredit, started with Crédit Rural de Guinée in 2002, with support from the Agence Française de Développement. Currently, total commitments devoted to microfinance internationally are on the order of €75 million in ten countries (Egypt, Guinea, India, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mexico, Philippines and Tunisia) with about twenty partners and concern more than 400,000 borrowers, i.e. an economic and social impact on more than 2 million people.

BNP Paribas: a strong commitment to community development in urban settings.
In 2006, with the support of its Foundation and the mobilisation of its Retail Banking division in France, BNP Paribas initiated a large-scale project: the Projet Banlieues (Suburbs Project). That programme, which is especially dedicated to helping create jobs and social unity in underprivileged neighbourhoods and to educational assistance for children in difficulties, has been given a budget of 3 million euros over 3 years.
The Suburbs Project is based on the lengthy experience that BNP Paribas has acquired alongside community organizers in urban settings for nearly 15 years with ADIE (Association Pour le Droit à l'Initiative Economique) and more than 10 years with AFEV (Association de la Fondation Etudiante pour la Ville). The group is very involved in the economic and social fabric of suburbs. In 2009, BNP Paribas will become the largest private employer in Seine-Saint-Denis with the setup of its Securities activity, which will bring the number of its employees to six thousand people. Since 2007, BNP Paribas has also allocated nearly two million euros to schools located in Underprivileged Urban Zones through payment of the taxe d'apprentissage, a tax levied on employers to provide funding for education.

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About BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas ( is a European leader in global banking and financial services and is one of the 6 strongest banks in the world according to Standard & Poor's. The group is present in 85 countries, with more than 171,000 employees, including 131.000 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.