campaigns explaining how to apply for EU aid for investment and even published a book on the subject.

The Fortis Group was also active in the factoring business in Poland. In August 2006, Fortis Commercial Finance (FCF), a Fortis subsidiary specialising in factoring and trade finance, acquired 4 Faktor Sp.zO.O, a Polish firm with eleven staff, which specialised in providing factoring services to small businesses. Headquartered in Warsaw, it had branches in Poznan, Gdynia and Bialystok.

Acquisition of Dominet

By April 2006 FBP boasted 32 branches and was planning to open another ten that year and 20 more in 2007. Even so, the operation was still too small, representing only 1% of the Polish banking market. If FBP wanted to speed up progress, it really needed to adopt a determined external growth strategy. In fact Fortis Banque had been planning during 2001-2002 to merge FBP with Bank Rozwoju Eksportu (BRE), a Polish subsidiary of the Germany-based Commerzbank that was ranked number five in the country s banking sector. This deal would have given Fortis Banque a 15% to 25% stake in the entity that resulted from the merger.

Eventually, in October 2006, Fortis Banque took control of Dominet, a Polish retail bank which was 50.1% owned by the Cacek family, with Merrill Lynch Global Emerging Markets Partners holding the remaining 49.9%. Dominet, which offered a wide range of banking products, was at that time the number 41-ranked player in the Polish banking market. It had around 250,000 customers and employed 806 people at 152 branches across Poland. However these were mainly franchises as Dominet s speciality was consumer credit, especially for automobile purchases. The bank had a fast-growing portfolio of cash loans and worked with over 2,000 car dealers, including Autotu, the leading network of second- hand car dealers in Poland103.

A number of assurances had to be provided to the Polish financial authorities before they finally agreed to authorise the takeover of Dominet in March 2007. It was understood that Fortis Bank Polska would remain listed on the Stock Exchange until at least 2011, that it would remain a subsidiary, not a branch, and that the members of the Management Board and Supervisory Board would be either Polish, or at least familiar with the Polish banking market. Dominet and Fortis Bank Polska would not be allowed to merge for a further four years.

The operational merger between Dominet Bank and FBP was successfully completed by end-July 2009. Customers of the two banks were entitled to use the branches of either

103. Taken from Fortis Tribune, n° 39, interview with Marc Luet, CEO of Fortis Consumer Group.

BUDYNEK GŁÓWNEJ SIEDZIBY GRUPY W POLSCE, UKOŃCZONY

W 2007 R., ZNA JDUJE SIĘ W KOMPLEKSIE BIUROWYM TRINITY

PARK W POBLIŻU LOTNISKA. NA 11 000M² I DZIESIĘCIU PIĘTRACH

MIESZCZĄ SIĘ RÓŻNE PODMIOTY BANKU W POLSCE - BIURA I 20 SAL

KONFERENCYJNYCH. BIUROWIEC ŁĄCZY W SOBIE BEZPIECZEŃSTWO

I FUNKCJONALNOŚĆ

GROUP HEADQUARTERS IN POLAND WAS COMPLETED IN 2007.

LOCATED IN THE TRINITY OFFICE PARK IN WARSAW, CLOSE

TO THE AIRPORT, IT ACCOMMODATES THE BANK S VARIOUS ENTITIES

IN POLAND. WITH ITS 10 STORIES, 11,000 M² OF OFFICE SPACE

AND 20 MEETING ROOMS, IT COMBINES FUNCTIONAL CONVENIENCE

AND SECURITY

200 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