Statement by Société Générale Re: Manulife Lawsuit



    MONTREAL, March 8 /CNW/ - Société Générale (Canada) today flatly denied
allegations in a Statement of Claim filed by Manulife Securities International
Ltd. against the bank and certain of its affiliates over the bank's role with
respect to failed alternative asset manager Portus Alternative Investment
Management.
    Société Générale (Canada) said that the allegations are without merit and
it will vigorously defend itself against these unfounded claims. Société
Générale acted properly and has fulfilled all of its obligations in the Portus
affair. The principal-protected deposit notes, which Société Générale sold to
the Portus trusts, are safe and secure, and continue to represent a
substantial, guaranteed asset for these trusts. At maturity, these notes will
have a minimum value of C$611 million.
    In its Statement of Claim, Manulife incorrectly describes the bank's role
with respect to Portus and the nature of the financial instruments it sold.
Société Générale did not sell investments to Portus investors, refer customers
to Portus, or make recommendations to Portus investors. Conversely, Manulife's
professional investment advisors recommended Portus investments to their
clients and were paid commissions by Portus for sourcing these investments.
    Portus created a series of investment trusts, the units of which were
sold to investors, often through agents such as Manulife Securities. These
investment trusts, managed exclusively by Portus, were free to invest in
investment products offered by a range of financial institutions, including
Canadian chartered banks. Portus purchased principal-protected deposit notes
from Société Générale as part of the investment program of its trusts.
    Société Générale stands behind its products and guarantees payment of the
principal amount of these deposit notes, which remain fully intact and which
are in the hands of KPMG as trustee-in-bankruptcy and receiver for Portus. The
bank has been cooperating fully with KPMG in all respects.
    Société Générale is one of Europe's largest financial services groups,
serving the needs of corporations, institutions and governments globally.
Société Générale (Canada) is a Schedule II Bank, established in 1974, that
works with Canadian and world-class clients by leveraging Société Générale's
international network, diversified product offering and presence in major
centres of Canada.




For further information:

For further information: David Weiner, NATIONAL Public Relations, (416)
848-1633

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