The Bank goes digital

In the early 2000s, Fortis Bank Polska had a website entitled Planet, which served as both a corporate shop window and a platform enabling users to carry out banking operations.

It was only in 2013 that BNP Paribas Bank Polska began to make use of mobile phone apps. However, there was another key aspect to the digital development strategy drawn up with Paris headquarters: enabling customers to carry out a wider range of banking operations. This was the back-ground to two projects which would finally be completed in 2014. The first, i-GOTOWKA (e-CASH), developed by Personal Finance, allows customers to arrange a personal

the arrival of new players, and companies were able to benefit from low interest rates and plentiful funds, from both the banks and the debt markets. New benchmark transac- tions were completed, including a 600 million backstop facility for the Polish Oil & Gas Company (PGNiG), a 500 million debt refinancing for Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (PTC) and a 300 million Eurobond issue on behalf of Telekomunikacja Polska (TPSA). A 350 million non-recourse financing deal for Basil Orlen Polyolefins and a PLN 535 million leveraged financing deal for Aster City Cable attracted particular attention among the banking com- munity. In all but one of these deals, BNP Paribas acted as mandated lead arranger.

In 2005, the Bank acted as lead manager and book runner for a 5.25 billion bond issue on behalf of the Republic of Poland, the largest issuance ever in Central Europe. This deal, together with a number of others, led to BNP Paribas Polska being named Best Debt House in Poland 2005 by Euromoney magazine.

In early 2006, BNP Paribas Bank Polska took on the status of a foreign branch of the BNP Paribas Group. As Poland had become an EU Member State in 2004, the Group had the right to opt for this status which was better suited to supporting the strong growth in financing businesses that required a great deal of capital than that of subsidiary.

2010-2015 onwards

Early in 2010, BNP Paribas announced the appointment of Frédéric Amoudru to the post of Country Head, Poland. When Fortis joined the BNP Paribas Group, the high volume of Retail banking business in Poland resulted in Poland being designated a Retail Banking territory. The Group was in fact aiming to create a universal bank in this market.

Frédéric Amoudru s task was to coordinate and develop BNP Paribas Group business in Poland, while also managing Fortis Bank Polska, a 99.9% subsidiary of Fortis Bank that would later become BNP Paribas Polska. With 259 branches, just under 400,000 cus- tomers, close to 2,800 staff, but nevertheless a rather low market share, Fortis Bank Polska formed the BNP Paribas Group bridgehead in the Polish market: growing its busi- ness was a top priority.

Although the strategic direction was clearly defined, there were numerous problems. First of all there was the merger between Dominet and Fortis Bank Polska in 2009, which required the closure of a number of branches. Then there were major losses both at Dominet and Fortis Bank Polska due to the post-Lehman crisis, amounting to PLN 500 million, plus a weighty portfolio of debts of dubious quality. These would require a recapi- talisation to the tune of PLN 400 million in 2009.

Then in 2010 came the rationalisation of the BNP Paribas foreign branch, whose business was centred on CIB activities. The bank decided to fold the branch s Corporate Banking businesses inside BNP Paribas Polska, focusing henceforth more closely on Fixed Income




186 T H E O R I G I N S A N D F O R M AT I O N O F B N P PA R I B A S B A N K P O L S K A