Annual Meeting of Shareholders of the Solidarity Fund QFL - A record year of
investments and progress in socially responsible finance

MONTREAL, Sept. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - At the 25th Annual Meeting of Shareholders held today, the Solidarity Fund QFL (the "Fund") reported on a year marked by record investments of $848 million, plus $542 million allocated to three financing programs launched following to the Québec government's last budget, and major strides made in the sphere of socially responsible finance.

"Through its mission and values of solidarity, respect, integrity and competence, which are reflected both in its investment and internal policies, the Fund has always been a socially responsible institution. We proved this once again this year by helping, more than ever, to create, maintain and preserve hundreds of jobs. Thanks to our investments, many companies were able to overcome the difficulties caused by the unstable economy. Also, this past year, our Board of Directors adopted new measures aimed at improving the Fund's governance and ensuring more stringent application of its code of ethics. In fact, I was personally involved in this continuous improvement process, which has been underway for a number for years," said the Fund's chairman, Michel Arsenault.

"One of our unique strengths lies in our network of over 2,000 volunteers, who promote the Fund's RRSP in the workplace. Without the determination of these local representatives, who encourage workers to save for retirement, the Fund would not be what it is today. This past year, the Fund collected $665 million in subscriptions, a 7% or $44 million increase over the previous year," added Mr. Arsenault.

"Our distinctive value is reflected in our investment strategy, which takes a long-term view. Taking into account our network of 16 regional Funds and 87 SOLIDE, 280 companies benefited from our investments this year, including Transcontinental, Gestion Juste pour rire Premier Tech,and Placements Montrusco Bolton. More recently, the Fund backed the growth projects of Bombardier, GLV, CAE and Groupe Robert. With record investments and sizeable subscription volume, we feel that our contribution to the Québec economy is vital. However, the economic crisis that affected our performance this past year is not entirely over. We will continue to actively back the development of companies of all sizes, in all sectors of activity and in all the regions of Québec while encouraging workers to save for retirement," affirmed the Fund's president and chief executive officer, Yvon Bolduc.

Important steps in the area of responsible management

This past year demonstrated the Fund's key role not only at the economic level but at the social level as well. In May, the organization took one more step as a socially responsible corporation by joining the United Nations Global Compact, a policy initiative that sets out principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

This coming year, the Fund will take another concrete step in the area of responsible management by producing its next annual report according to the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) framework, an international reference standard adopted by thousands of financial institutions and firms. The Fund will apply the GRI guidelines to produce a sustainability report on its performance in three key areas: social, economic and environmental.

The Fund is thus moving forward with its green program, initiated a few years ago, by implementing a series of concrete measures. For instance, its annual shareholder meetings have been carbon neutral for the last three years. The Fund has also implemented BOMA BESt, a program that call for applying environmental best practices to commercial buildings, and Défi Climat, an annual campaign that rallies employees to rise to the climate change challenge.

A profitable investment for the governments

"The Fund also relies on the confidence of the governments, which grant shareholders 30% in tax credits, an investment recovered in less than three years. This past fiscal year was not without challenges, with the economic crisis resulting in many job losses. I'd like to reassure our shareholders and partners that despite the turbulence, the Fund will continue to actively do its part with rigour and transparency. Twenty-five years ago Québec created a singular economic development tool whose effectiveness is indisputable," concluded Mr. Arsenault.

The Fund places among the world' top 100 venture capital funds

The Fund's ranking among the top 100 global venture capital funds is a remarkable achievement that shows just how important the Fund's role is and how well it is known around the world. The rankings were the results of a study of over 1,000 venture capital funds around the world conducted by Red Herring, a California-based technology magazine.

Reminder of the Fund's performance in fiscal 2008-2009

On July 6, the Fund unveiled the results of its last fiscal year. Despite the severe recession in Québec, the Fund succeeded in generating a 3.2% return in the second half of the year, ended May 31, 2009, for net earnings of $197 million. Share value rose $0.58 from its price on January 5, 2009, to $21.78. However, the global economic crisis took a toll on the Fund's overall annual return, which was -12.6% for the year. Still, this compares favourably with the principal stock indices and Canadian balanced funds, which returned, respectively, an average of -29 % and -34 %(1) and -16%(2) for the same period, i.e., June 1, 2008 to May 31, 2009.

Subscription limit

For the fiscal year ending May 31, 2010, the Fund's Board of Directors has capped at $700 million, the value of shares the Fund can issue that give rise to labour-sponsored fund tax credits.

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    Highlights
                                        6 months        Fiscal       Fiscal
                          6 months         ended          year         year
                             ended      November         ended        ended
                            May 31,           30,       May 31,      May 31,
                              2009          2008          2009         2008
                      (in millions  (in millions  (in millions (in millions
                              of $)         of $)         of $)       of $)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Net assets               6,375         6,171         6,375        7,285
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Revenues                   113           126           239          261
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Net earnings (loss)        197        (1,116)         (919)         (89)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Return                     3.2%        (15.3)%       (12.6)%       (1.2)%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       (in dollars)  (in dollars)  (in dollars)  (in dollars)
    Net assets per share     21.78         21.20         21.78         25.05
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (1) For the same period, i.e., June 1, 2008, to May 31, 2009, the BMO
        Québec-based small cap index returned -34.5%, the S&P 500, -34.4%,
        the Nasdaq, -29.7%, the Russell 2000, -33.0%, and the S&P/TSX
        composite, -29.5%.
    (2) For the same period, i.e. June 1, 2008 to May 31, 2009, the average
        return of Canadian balanced funds was -16.6% (source: global neutral
        balanced funds as compiled by globefund.com).
    

About the Solidarity Fund QFL

With net assets of $6.4 billion as at May 31, 2009, the Solidarity Fund QFL is a development capital company that through its RRSP channels the savings of Quebecers into investments in all sectors of the economy to help create and maintain jobs and to further Québec's economic growth. The Fund is a partner, either directly or through its network members, in 2,000 companies. It currently has nearly 571,000 shareholders and has helped, on its own or with other financial partners, to create, maintain and protect nearly 143,000 jobs. For more information, visit www.fondsftq.com.

    

                   THE 10 PRINCIPLES OF THE GLOBAL COMPACT
    

HUMAN RIGHTS

Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of

internationally proclaimed human rights; and

Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights

abuses.

LABOUR STANDARDS

Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the

effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

Principle 4: eliminate all forms of forced and compulsory labour;

Principle 5: abolish child labour; and

Principle 6: eliminate discrimination in respect of employment and

occupation.

ENVIRONMENT

Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to

environmental challenges;

Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental

responsibility; and

Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally

friendly technologies.

ANTI-CORRUPTION

Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms,

including extortion and bribery.

SOURCE Fonds de solidarité FTQ

For further information: For further information: Note: 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


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