Solidarity Fund QFL Invests a Record $665 Million in Québec Companies



    MONTREAL, June 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Yvon Bolduc, President and CEO of the
Solidarity Fund QFL (the "Fund"), accompanied by members of the organization's
management team, held a press conference today to announce the Fund's solid
performance in terms of venture and development capital investments.
    "The Fund has been breaking its own investment record for two years now.
For the year ended May 31, we invested over $665 million in more than 140
companies including over 90 new partners. This amount also includes
investments in our regional network. The Fund is clearly a major player in
Québec's economic development," said Yvon Bolduc.
    With net assets of over $6.8 billion, long-term investment strategies, an
approach that seeks to enhance SME value, and specialized multi-sector teams,
the Fund is a solid organization that is firmly committed to helping fuel the
growth of companies in all sectors and regions of Québec.
    The Fund also backs innovative start-ups that target promising niches.
"In the last four years, the Fund and its network have invested $587 million
either directly or indirectly in start-ups," added Mr. Bolduc.

    Private funds to help SMEs
    In the last few years, the Fund has played a particularly active role in
structuring Québec's venture capital industry. "In the IT and life sciences
sectors, we've spent over $325 million both here and abroad to help create
some 20 private funds specializing in start-ups. We also invest in foreign
specialized funds, which are chosen for their powerful international business
network and strong ability to help grow our local companies. For each dollar
we invest in a foreign fund, Québec benefits from economic spin-offs that are
at least equivalent, and that's not counting the advantage of market access.
We're especially proud of our success with this strategy, which since its
implementation, has raised more than $1.2 billion in new capital for our IT
and life sciences firms," stated the Fund's chief executive.

    Sector-based strategies
    Thanks to its specialized teams, the Fund has an investment strategy for
each economic sector.
    Despite the major issued confronting the manufacturing industry, such as
the rising Canadian dollar and competition from emerging markets, the Fund
continues to support companies backed by a strong management team, distinctive
technology, and a desire to grow. This past year, the Fund played an important
role in the automobile industry, helping Spectra Premium with a management
buyout and its subsequent privatization. This transaction allowed the company
to keep its head office and some 950 jobs in Québec. In the textile industry,
the Fund partnered with Stedfast, which is responding to the industry's
challenges by developing high-tech products such as fabric for manufacturers
of fire- and bacteria-resistant clothing in the medical, industrial, maritime
and civil sectors.
    In natural resources, more specifically, mining, Québec is carving out a
favourable position in the geology segment. A few years ago, the Fund and the
Québec government created Sidex, which has invested in more than 110
exploration projects to date, helping diversify Québec's mining production.
This past year, the Fund also helped launch two mining companies, Exploration
Midland and Ressources Cartier, with a view to securing the industry's future.
    In recreational tourism, the Mont Tremblant's Le Scandinave Spa(TM)
concept is another fitting example of the Fund's confidence in a strong
management team with a strategic vision for its company's development. The
Fund is proud to be associated with this growth project, which seeks to expand
the banner in North America and Europe while creating some 100 direct and
indirect jobs in Québec.
    On the aerospace front, Québec suppliers must adapt to a new reality,
namely, that integrators will have to take on more financial risk by building
complete aircraft sections and funding R&D, design and production before
reaping the benefits of sales. To help aerospace firms make the shift, the
Fund has created the risk-sharing loan. During the year, the Fund also
increased its investment in Mecachrome, a supplier for the Boeing 787, to help
the company stake a position as an integrator in North America.
    The non-traditional sectors of information technology and life sciences
accounted for 17% of the Fund's investments last year. On the life sciences
side, the Fund will back promising companies with a view to creating a
world-class biotech sector in Québec. To this end, it invested in Victhom
Human Bionics, a company headquartered in Québec City, so it could complete
clinical trials of some products and register them with the European and
American regulatory authorities before moving on to the commercialization
stage. On the IT side, the Fund backed firms that had penetrated promising
niches such as Cellfish Media and BlueStreak Network, both specializing in
wireless technology.

    A smart partnership with MIT
    Towards its fiscal year-end, the Fund initiated an important training
program with MIT Sloan School of Management, one of the world's leading
business schools, located in Boston, conducting research in science and
technology. Thanks to a joint effort of the ministère du Développement
économique, de l'Innovation, de l'Exportation et du Tourisme and the Pôle
Québec Chaudière-Appalaches economic development agency, 10 Québec technology
firms will be coached and trained by the renowned university, which set up
this program to help step up their growth.

    Message to SMEs
    The Fund ended the press conference by inviting Québec business leaders
to boost their competitiveness. "If they are to hold onto their position in
today's fiercely competitive markets, Québec entrepreneurs must grow
organically or through acquisitions. They must develop a promising market
segments and improve their productivity by leveraging their technology and
optimizing their processes. The Fund's Productivity Loan(TM) was designed
specifically for this purpose. We also encourage them to develop and promote
strong trademarks, which is why we created the Trademark Loan(TM). Lastly,
worker training and succession planning are also a must to successfully fend
off international competition," said Gaétan Morin, the Fund's Executive
Vice-President, Investments.

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Key investment figures, as at May 31, 2007
    - A record investment year:                       Over $665 million
    - In over 140 companies, including more than 90 new partners, and in the
      regional network.

    - Investments in start-ups (in the last 4 years): $587 million
    - Investments in specialized funds:               $158 million

    - Investments by sector:
      Traditional sectors:                            $533 million       80%
      (Natural resources, industries and consumer
      goods, aeronautics, construction, services and
      transport, real estate)

      IT and life sciences:                           $134 million       20%
      (Information technology, telecommunications,
      industrial innovations, life sciences)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

    About the Solidarity Fund QFL
    With net assets of over $6.8 billion, 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 1,681 companies. It
currently has nearly 570,000 shareholders and has helped, on its own or with
other financial partners, to create, maintain and support over 116,000 jobs.
For more information, visit www.fondsftq.com




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, Solidarity Fund QFL, (514)
850-4835, jlagace@fondsftq.com


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