PRESS RELEASE
16/01/2001

Banco Popular acquires an interest in Iberagentes

As part of the extension of its asset management activities, Banco Popular has just announced the acquisition of a 25% interest in the Iberagentes group. Iberagentes, whose top holding company is Fortior Holding SA, specialises in wealth management services and currently has assets under management of 1.65 billion euros.

On completion of the transaction, Fortior Holding"s shareholders will be composed of Banco Popular, Dexia Banque Internationale à Luxembourg (Dexia BIL) and the founding shareholders, Vicente Santana and Emilio Viñas, each with an equal interest. Under the terms of the agreement, Banco Popular may subsequently acquire a majority shareholding.

Banco Popular and Dexia BIL will contribute to Fortior Holding"s development. As a result of this transaction, the three groups will be able to create synergies in the fields of private banking, financial counselling and corporate finance.

Banco Popular group is pursuing a strategy aimed at growth across all areas of business. Through this transaction and the development of a private banking and asset management structure, it will be in a position to profit from the strong growth opportunities of the private banking market.

One of the immediate objectives is to create a private wealth management bank, which will start to operate as soon as the requisite authorisation has been granted by the competent authorities and which will integrate the current structure and business of Iberagentes Activos SV, SA.

As a result of this transaction, the Banco Popular Group will be able to make a truly global commitment to its customers through a range of exclusive private banking services. To do this, it will draw on Iberagentes" current expertise and the private banking experience of Dexia BIL which currently has total deposits of 31 billion euros.

Dexia BIL pilots the Dexia group"s wealth management and fund administration business which amounts to total assets under management of 55 billion euros (at 31.12.2000).

Iberagentes was founded in 1983 and its principal business is asset management and product distribution for a well to do clientele.

The Fortior Holding Group consists of 6 companies. The sales force is concentrated within d"Iberagentes Activos SV, which commercialises the group"s products and services via 12 offices in Madrid (2), Saragossa (3), Valencia (2), Barcelona, Pamplona, Seville, Bilbao and Tenerife. It also has a network of 73 representatives and 26 institutional distributors. In addition, the Fortior Holding Group has a pension plan management company (Iberagentes Previsión) and two fund management companies (Iberagentes Gestión Colectiva and Gestion Premier Fund). Iberagentes Servicios and Iberagentes Sistemas provide the administrative, respectively, IT support for the Group.

The new entity will be able to rely on Iberagentes Activos" current office network - planned to comprise 20 offices over the next four years - on the distribution capacity of the Banco Popular Group"s 2000 plus branches and on Dexia BIL"s know-how in the field of asset management and financial counselling. The objective set is to have assets worth 4.8 billion euros under management by 2003.