BMO CEO: Companies that Expand Markets and Invest in Productivity Now Will
Win in the Post-Recovery World

Canadians have the opportunity to shape the global framework for stability

WINNIPEG, March 23 /CNW/ - Addressing BMO Financial Group's (TSX; NYSE: BMO) Annual Meeting of Shareholders, BMO President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Downe made the case for businesses to expand markets and invest in productivity now as the economic recovery takes hold.

"If ever there was a time that we - and I am speaking about both BMO and our customers - should feel compelled to expand our markets and to invest in productivity, it is now," said Mr. Downe. "Given the relative strength in the economy, businesses have a rare opportunity, and clear incentives to step up innovation and their investment in leading edge equipment."

Businesses increasingly need to take account of major structural changes underway -- demographics, productivity and shifting markets - to ensure firms' competitiveness. "What we know for certain is that over the next decade, Asia will account for a significantly higher portion of global GDP offset by a decline in Europe and Japan of almost the same magnitude. In that context, how companies in Canada and the United States adapt will determine the growth rates of our domestic economies...the ability to compete for new global customers is going to depend on efficiency of production and capacity to innovate."

To seize these advantages, it is going to take a close partnership between businesses, that increasingly need not just capital, but advice in a changing world, from their financial partner. "Banking customers, no matter where they are, need a strong financial partner," said Mr. Downe. "BMO is firmly positioned to be that partner."

Canada has received well-deserved recognition for the soundness of its banking system, and has a legitimate role to play in achieving global consensus . Mr. Downe said, "Given the stability of our economy and our banking system, many countries believe that Canadian representatives on the Basel committee and in the G20 negotiations have the opportunity and the ability to exercise leadership in the crafting of a global framework for stability.

"We are optimistic that the process of regulatory reform will lead to a better market for all participants," added Mr. Downe. "We are going into this process with high capital ratios and expect that the potential changes will reconfirm BMO's position among the strongest banks in the world."

A copy of Mr. Downe's speech is available at www.bmo.com.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $399 billion as at January 31, 2010, and more than 36,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

For further information: For further information: For all media enquiries please contact: Ralph Marranca, Toronto, ralph.marranca@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996; Ronald Monet, Montreal, ronald.monet@bmo.com, (514) 877-1873


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