Poland joins the EU

Poland started to forge closer ties with the European Union very soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall. These moves basically came in response to Poland s desire to establish a new political identity and find its rightful place in Europe once again. Closer ties were also necessary from an economic viewpoint as the disso- lution of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) in 1991 led to the loss of traditional Soviet bloc markets.

Poland s application for membership of the European Union was submitted in 1994 and negotiations began in 1998. On 7 and 8 June 2003 Poland held a referendum on EU accession. Some 77.45% of the electorate voted in favour of Poland joining the European Union.

Poland officially became a member of the European Union on 1 May 2004.

arranger for some $10 million worth of funding a syndicated loan of PLN 466 million for Telekomunikacja Polska in 1998, a floating rate notes programme in the amount of PLN 200 million for Zaklady Cementowo-Wapiennicze Nowiny S.A. in 1999, a commercial paper programme amounting to PLN 100 million for that same client in 2000, and a com- mercial paper programme totalling PLN 150 million for Castorama in 2000.

In 1999, the joint venture had six branches in Poland: in Gdansk, Katowice, Lodz, Poznan, Szczecin and Wroclaw.

BNP Paribas Polska

The partnership between BNP (which had by then been subsumed into the newly-merged BNP Paribas Group) and Dresdner ended in 2000. BNP Paribas purchased Dresdner s share in the Polish joint venture, renaming it BNP Paribas Polska S.A. Under the manage- ment of Yves Drieux, the Bank continued to pursue its strong commercial business with Polish and other European clients and also began to provide cash management services.

However, the ending of the BNP-Dresdner partnership created a number of problems. Jacques Przybylak, who was head of the Bank s dealing room during this period recalls the challenges he had to cope with: We were given six months to disconnect ourselves from the Dresdner platform and set up a new accounting and risk management system. We accomplished the migration to the new platform in record time thanks to the sup- port of the London staff. In addition we were faced with a rather unusual situation in the dealing room as practically the entire team had resigned. But we gradually built up a highly-expert team that was fully integrated into the BNP Paribas regional markets organ- isation and once again became highly active on the bond, derivatives, forward contracts and futures markets as a BNP Paribas Group unit specialising in Polish Zloty transactions.

The number of BNP Paribas Polska S.A branches was reduced to three Warsaw, Katowice and Poznan and the bank began to collaborate closely with the other Group businesses in Poland Arval, Cardif, BNP Paribas Lease and Cetelem. In 2002 the bank, run by Jean-Claude Chaval as Head of Territory and Andrzej Mauberg, who presided the Management Board, posted excellent results, achieving an ROE of 14%.

The Bank s clientele consisted of large corporations, banks and financial institutions, plus also small and medium-sized enterprises. In 2003, the Bank widened its product range to include cash management, trade finance and hedging. ROE continued to improve, reaching 18% that year.

After Poland joined the European Union in May 2004, the country s macro-economic situ- ation improved still further, with growth reaching 5.4%. External trade was liberalised, foreign direct investment rose and the country was able to obtain support for infrastruc- ture financing under EU development programmes. Meanwhile the banking sector saw

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