Annual General Meeting of the Solidarity Fund QFL - The Fund Continues to Innovate, Grow and Enrich Québec and Its Residents



    MONTREAL, Sept. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - The Annual Meeting of Shareholders of
the Solidarity Fund QFL (the "Fund") was held today in Montréal under the
theme "Innovate, Grow, Enrich" marking the organization's 25th anniversary.
    Since this is a milestone year for the Fund, QFL president and Fund
chairman Michel Arsenault and the Fund's CEO, Yvon Bolduc, chose to remind
shareholders of the important role the Fund still plays today in making
Quebecers aware of the need to save for retirement, in creating, maintaining
and preserving quality jobs, in providing workers with economic training, in
stimulating the Québec economy through long-term investments, and in helping
structure Québec's venture capital industry.
    The Fund's officers also reviewed the financial results for the fiscal
year ended May 31, 2008, and explained the implications of the present
economic outlook and stock market situation for the Fund.

    Review of financial highlights

    On July 5, the Fund unveiled its results for the fiscal year ended
May 31, 2008. Despite a weak economic context, particularly for small caps,
which were adversely affected by the strong Canadian dollar and high price of
oil, the Fund managed to limit the decrease in its return to -1.2%. Share
value thus decreased by $0.31 as at July 5, 2007 to $25.05. Despite this
decrease, the Fund's return compares favourably with certain stock indices(1)
and other balanced funds when one considers its unique mission to serve Québec
businesses and its asset classes.
    During the last fiscal year, net assets grew by $46 million over the
previous year to $7.3 billion. The Fund continued to carefully manage its
operations with the result that the operating expense ratio held steady at
1.4% of average net assets, a level that compares favourably with the
industry's top performers.

    Two new records

    The Fund set two new records in fiscal 2008, one in investments and
another in shareholder contributions. "This past year, we invested a record
$730 million to support Québec businesses in need of capital to continue
modernizing and optimizing their operations, particularly since the economy is
slowing. Together with its regional funds, the Fund backed 140 businesses,
providing patient capital and the added value of our specialized teams. We
also broke a record on the shareholder side, with $446 million out of a total
of $611 million contributed through systematic savings, in other words,
payroll deduction and pre-authorized withdrawals," said Mr. Bolduc.

    Current financial and economic situation

    "As regards the current fiscal year, just like the rest of the financial
industry, we are feeling the effects of the market turbulence. I'd like to
remind our shareholders that the Fund is solid, debt free and has highly
liquid, diversified assets. What's more, thanks to the 30% tax credits the
Fund's RRSP make it easier for shareholders to save for retirement. Because we
offer flexible capital and have a long-term vision, we can back companies
through more volatile periods. In fact, we've set aside a special budget of
$40 million to help our partner companies through this tough time," added Mr.
Bolduc. That said, given the present market situation, it is unlikely that the
Fund will generate a positive return for the first half of the year, ending
November 30, 2008. However, the markets are so volatile that it is difficult
to project returns to the end of November. The Fund will announce its
six-month return and the new share value on January 5, 2009, as planned.

    Contribution limit

    Last year, the Fund issued $611 million in shares, and the limit for
lump-sum contributions was reached on December 28, 2007. For this fiscal year,
which will end on May 31, 2009, the maximum value of contributions giving rise
to tax credits will be $700 million. Although this amount is considerably
higher than last year, the Fund may have to stop issuing shares to lump-sum
contributors around mid-January, which is when it expects to have used up the
amount allotted for this type of contribution.

    The Fund: a solid institution in a class of its own

    "After 25 years in operation, the Fund has created a new social and
economic dynamic between business leaders, workers and the governments. In
fact, for the governments, the tax credits are a real investment whose cost is
recovered in less than three years(2) through a combination of greater
economic activity and taxes. And as regards workers, the Fund has allowed more
than 575,000 shareholders to save through its unique network of local
representatives. On the employment front, the Fund has helped, alone or
together with other financial partners, to create, maintain and preserve over
126,000 jobs, an amazing achievement. The Fund also stands apart with its
economic training program for workers, the benefits of which are tangibly felt
in our partner companies. Indeed, nearly 7,000 people participated in this
program last year. Thus, our performance over the last quarter century is
impressive. The Fund is an innovative, inspirational institution whose added
value for Québec is indisputable both from a social and an economic
perspective," affirmed Michel Arsenault.

    
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Highlights as at May 31                 2008                  2007
                                    (in millions of $)    (in millions of $)
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Net assets                             7,285                 7,239
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Revenue                                   10                   591
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Net earnings (net loss)                  (89)                  475
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual return                           (1.2)%                 7.1%
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        (in dollars)          (in dollars)
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Net value per share                    25.05                 25.36
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    (1) From June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2008, Canadian balanced mutual funds
        returned -3.3% on average (source: Global mutual balanced funds
        compiled by globefund.com), the Québec Nesbitt Index was down 25%,
        the S&P 500 lost 8.5%, the Nasdaq slipped 3.1% and the Russell 2000
        fell 11.7%. For its part, the S&P/TSX was up 4.7% for the same
        period.

    (2) Portrait des investissements du Fonds de solidarité des travailleurs
        du Québec et analyse de leur impact économique, compiled by SECOR and
        Regional Data Corporation, February 2005.
    




For further information:

For further information: The telephone number provided below is for the
exclusive use of journalists and other media representatives.: Josée Lagacé,
Senior Advisor, Press Relations and Communications, Fonds de solidarité FTQ,
(514) 850-4835, Cell.: (514) 707-5180, jlagace@fondsftq.com


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