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Sahara Bank and BNP Paribas organize first Trade Finance Conference in Libya

Sahara Bank, in liaison with its strategic partner BNP Paribas, held its first “Trade Finance Conference” in Tripoli on 9 April 2008. The conference presents the expertise available from the two partners and provides a forum to share best practices and discuss the many opportunities now available for the Libyan corporate sector. Reflecting the growing weight of international transactions in Libya, Sahara Bank and BNP Paribas will organize additional conferences in 2008, focused on strengthening the competitiveness and profitability of Libyan companies in national and international markets.

Trade Finance Conference provides showcase for Sahara Bank's international expertise

With these conferences, Sahara Bank and BNP Paribas aim to add value to the development of the Libyan corporate sector. The conference was divided in two parts: an overview of the international trade market, and a closer look at specific trade finance issues.

BNP Paribas gave a detailed review of its expertise in terms of products, technology and network capabilities, with a focus on the tangible benefits for Sahara Bank's corporate and institutional clients of using these solutions.

Discussing the synergies created by the partnership with BNP Paribas, Sahara Bank CEO Claude Rufin said: "Sahara Bank's goal is to be the first Libyan Bank that meets international standards, providing commercial banking services with innovative, tailor-made solutions, supported by state-of-the-art banking operations and risk management thanks to close integration with the BNP Paribas group.”

Launch of Sahara Bank Trade Center

Sahara Bank has created a Trade Center right at its head office to support local and international clients. The Trade Centers are a unique and innovative concept deployed by BNP Paribas on five continents, connecting 85 countries to the current network of 90 Trade Centers.

The Trade Center makes Sahara Bank part of a global network, providing access to a variety of tools to help clients structure transactions and take advantage of tailored products and specific solutions.

BNP Paribas' “Connexis Trade” e-banking Trade System—which facilitates the issuance of letters of credits and guarantees through a secure Internet application—was also featured during the conference. Launch of e-banking services like this is scheduled for later this year.

Sahara Bank CEO Claude Rufin added: “The Trade Center in Tripoli will provide better services to Libyan corporate and institutional sectors and to international companies thanks to a dedicated sales force of more than 250 trade professionals around the world.” The Trade Center offers an efficient gateway to the worldwide network.”

About BNP Paribas and Sahara Bank partnership
BNP Paribas was chosen by Libyan authorities to become the strategic partner of Sahara Bank in July 2007. Effective since 18 September 2007, this partnership aims to accelerate Sahara Bank's business development with the support from BNP Paribas' experience and expertise, particularly in the areas of retail banking products and services, project finance, international trade finance, and in the modernisation of IT and support functions (notably risk management, financial control and organization).

About Sahara Bank
Sahara Bank ( is a Libyan universal commercial bank with 1,500 employees and the largest bank capital in Libya. It has a market share of 9% for loans and 21% for deposits. Its customers, whom it serves through a network of 48 branches across the country, include large national companies, private enterprises, both Libyan and foreign, and over 300,000 private or small business clients. With BNP Paribas's support and particularly its product expertise and knowledge of cross-selling techniques, Sahara Bank's development prospects are promising.

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 almost 163,000 employees, including near 127,000 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.