Fidelity Bank & Trust and Royal Bank of Canada announce merchant banking joint venture



    Royal Fidelity Merchant Bank & Trust to begin operations in The Bahamas
    and Barbados

    NASSAU, April 17 /CNW/ - Fidelity Bank & Trust International Limited
(Fidelity) and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) (RY on TSX and NYSE), today
announced the signing of a definitive joint venture agreement pursuant to
which RBC will acquire a 50 per cent interest in Fidelity's wholly owned
Bahamas-based subsidiary, Fidelity Merchant Bank & Trust Limited. The
transaction is subject to normal closing conditions, including receipt of all
necessary regulatory approval, and is expected to be completed within the next
three months.
    The joint venture is intended to be called Royal Fidelity Merchant Bank &
Trust Limited (Royal Fidelity) and will provide corporate finance and
advisory, investment management, stock brokerage, share registrar and transfer
agency, pension and mutual fund administration services to existing and new
clients throughout the Caribbean.
    RBC will transfer its Barbados investment management and trust business
to a Barbados subsidiary of Royal Fidelity upon receipt of local approvals and
licenses. Upon closing, Royal Fidelity will operate in The Bahamas and
Barbados with assets under management and administration in excess of
US$1 billion, with plans to open offices elsewhere in the Caribbean.
    Michael Anderson, president of Fidelity Merchant Bank & Trust, will be
president of Royal Fidelity. Both RBC and Fidelity will continue to operate
their current retail banking and other businesses in the region under their
respective brands.
    Anwer Sunderji, chairman and CEO of Fidelity, said, "This transaction
validates our strategy in deploying resources to build our merchant bank
subsidiary, which has established itself as the leading investment advisor and
wealth management institution in The Bahamas. Innovative products, solid
advice and unparalleled service have been key to Fidelity's success. Through
this transforming partnership with Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Fidelity will
gain access to significant financial and technical resources that will enable
it to grow rapidly within and outside The Bahamas."
    "This transaction extends RBC's growing financial services platform in
the Caribbean, giving even greater access to the fast growing merchant banking
and corporate advisory sector in the region," said Ross McDonald, head of
Caribbean banking, RBC. "We are impressed with Fidelity's merchant banking
operations and view this transaction to be strategically important to our
expansion plans in the Caribbean."
    Royal Fidelity will be well positioned to take advantage of the growing
number of investment and financing opportunities arising across the Caribbean.
"The Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados have been centres of several
large mergers, acquisitions and related capital markets transactions in recent
months and the expectations are that this trend will continue," Anderson said.
    The combination of RBC and Fidelity establishes a one-stop solution for
medium- to large-sized corporate finance engagements. Royal Fidelity clients
will now be able to obtain corporate finance services as well as corporate
banking products, such as bridge loans, project finance, and term loans, along
with wealth management and fiduciary services.
    "Clients of the new Royal Fidelity joint venture will benefit from RBC's
financial strength and extensive experience and capabilities in global capital
markets and Fidelity's innovative corporate finance and successful wealth
management experience," Anderson said.

    About Fidelity
    Headquartered in The Bahamas, Fidelity Bank & Trust International Limited
heads a financial services group offering a comprehensive range of both
domestic and international banking, insurance and other financial products and
services in The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the Turks & Caicos Islands
through 10 financial centres, served by over 200 employees.

    About RBC
    Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) and its subsidiaries operate
under the master brand name of RBC. We are Canada's largest bank as measured
by assets and market capitalization and one of North America's leading
diversified financial services companies. We provide personal and commercial
banking, wealth management services, insurance, corporate and investment
banking and transaction processing services on a global basis. Our corporate
support team enables business growth with expert professional advice and
state-of-the art processes and technology. We employ approximately 70,000
full- and part-time employees who serve more than 14 million personal,
business, public sector and institutional clients throughout offices in North
America and 34 countries around the world.
    Royal Bank of Canada has a longstanding presence in The Bahamas, with
operations dating back to 1908. Today, it boasts a retail network of
23 branches throughout New Providence and the Family Islands, a commercial
banking business centre, and 37 automated banking machines.
    Royal Bank of Canada currently operates 42 branches, four business
centers and 68 automated banking machines in eight Caribbean countries, with
more than 1300 employees across the region, including The Bahamas.

    
               Safe Harbor Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
               ------------------------------------------------
    

    Certain statements contained in this press release may be deemed to be
forward-looking statements under certain securities laws, including the "safe
harbor" provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform
Act of 1995 and in any applicable Canadian securities legislation, and Royal
Bank of Canada (RBC) and Fidelity Bank & Trust International Limited
(Fidelity) intend that such forward-looking statements be subject to the
safe-harbor created thereby. The words "may," "could," "should," "would,"
"suspect," "outlook," "believe," "plan," "anticipate," "estimate," "expect,"
"intend," "forecast," "objective" and words and expressions of similar import
are intended to identify forward-looking statements.
    By their very nature, forward-looking statements involve numerous
assumptions, and inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific,
and risks exist that predictions, forecasts, projections and other
forward-looking statements, including statements about the joint venture
between Fidelity and RBC, will not be achieved. We caution readers not to
place undue reliance on these statements as a number of important factors
could cause our actual results to differ materially from the beliefs, plans,
objectives, expectations, anticipations, estimates and intentions expressed in
such forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to
the possibility that the proposed joint venture does not close when expected
or at all because required regulatory, shareholder or other approvals are not
received or other conditions to the closing are not satisfied on a timely
basis or at all, that RBC and Fidelity may be required to modify the terms and
conditions of the proposed joint venture to achieve regulatory approval, or
that the anticipated benefits of the joint venture are not realized as a
result of such things as the strength of the economy and competitive factors
in the areas where the joint venture will do business; the impact of changes
in the laws and regulations regulating financial services and enforcement
thereof (including banking, insurance and securities); judicial judgments and
legal proceedings; RBC and Fidelity's ability to complete the joint venture
successfully; reputational risks, and other factors that may affect future
results of RBC and Fidelity including changes in trade policies, timely
development and introduction of new products and services, changes in tax
laws, and technological and regulatory changes. We caution that the foregoing
list of important factors is not exhaustive.
    RBC and Fidelity assume no obligation to update the forward-looking
statements contained in this press release.




For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: RBC, Nassau, Jan Knowles, (242)
356-8796, jan.knowles@rbc.com; Fidelity Bank & Trust, Nassau, Serena Williams,
(242) 356-7764 ext 3143, serena.williams@fidelitybahamas.com; Toronto, Jackie
Braden, (416) 974-2124, jackie.braden@rbc.com


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