The history of the BNP Paribas Group in Poland highlights two important lessons: first, it is worthwhile to focus on markets offering upside potential and, second, it imparts to us the importance of patience and persistence in pursuing business objectives. Our history shows how to leverage challenging market conditions to implement an effective consoli- dation strategy while lending credence to the proverb that fortune favours the bold.

In this context, we should remember that the BPN Paribas Group acquired Fortis Bank on 12 May 2009, shortly after the outbreak of the global financial crisis. Later, it accom- plished another important achievement in 2014/2015 by acquiring an equity stake in BGŻ from Rabobank at the time when it retracted from the Polish market. At that moment, the banking industry was facing a low interest rate environment and a sharp decline in yields offered by the banking business in Poland.

The most recent phase of expansion entails the acquisition of Sygma Bank concurrently with the advent of the banking tax in Poland, signifying the emergence of yet another challenge for the banking sector to sustain yields.

The merger of BGŻ, BNP Paribas and Sygma Bank is one of the largest and most com- plicated integration processes witnessed in recent years. As a result of this business combination, a bank with enormous ambition and a large appetite for further growth has been formed with the aim of continuing to be the leader in the agri-food sector. BGŻ BNP Paribas is a universal institution offering a comprehensive range of banking products to international and Polish corporations, SMEs, farmers and private individuals with a presence in local communities.

As we turn our eyes to the future, we may conjecture that this demanding market envi- ronment will accelerate consolidation in the domestic banking sector. Estimates indicate that the number of large universal and commercial banks will continue to dwindle in coming years. Ultimately, a mere 5 or 6 large banks may survive with smaller niche banks specializing in highly customized products operating in their midst.

Recent history affords ample confirmation of the Group s efficacy, thereby enabling us to presume that BNP Paribas will belong to this number. I am confident that the process in which these select few victors will emerge will be highly interesting with many sur- prising twists and turns. I am sure that our experience and persistence will enable the BNP Paribas Group to take part in this game with a feeling of confidence and satisfaction.