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BMO Financial Group Increases Stake in Chinese Fund Management Firm  

BMO Financial Group today announced it has signed an agreement to increase its stake in Fullgoal Fund Management Company Ltd. of China to approximately 28 per cent from 17 per cent. The agreement, which is subject to Chinese regulatory approval, was signed on April 15, 2004, with the two largest shareholders - Haitong Securities Company Limited and Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Company Limited - who also increased their stakes by the same amount.

"BMO's increased investment reinforces our continued commitment to Fullgoal and to the mutual fund industry in China," said Gilles Ouellette, President and Chief Executive Officer, Private Client Group, BMO Financial Group. "The potential growth in China's asset management marketplace is occurring as expected and we are now better positioned to take advantage of the significant opportunities this presents."

BMO projects there will be $200 billion to $300 billion in assets available for management in China within five to 10 years.

"We have also strengthened our relationships with our equal shareholders, the two largest securities firms in China. This means we will be exploring other opportunities, outside of Fullgoal, to expand our wealth management and investment banking services in Asia," added Mr. Ouellette.

Fullgoal and BMO Financial Group signed a co-operation agreement in February 2001 to develop China's potential in asset management, investment funds and pensions. In May 2003, BMO became the first foreign company to acquire an interest in an established fund management firm in China and it remains the only company to have an interest in one of the original ten Chinese fund firms.

"We are very pleased that BMO Financial Group continues to be so committed to the growth and success of our company," said Ms. Chen Min, Chairwoman, Fullgoal Fund Management Company Ltd.

"Since acquiring an interest in Fullgoal last year, BMO has been working closely with us on training and development across all areas of our company, including investment management, sales and distribution, and corporate governance. In this short time, BMO has significantly enhanced our business and, ultimately, Fullgoal's profitability. We look forward to expanding the scope of work in all areas," added Ms. Chen.

Future plans include introducing Chinese mutual funds to international investors and, when regulations permit, offering mutual funds from around the world to Chinese investors.

Fullgoal Fund Management Company Ltd.

Fullgoal Fund Management Company Ltd. is one of China's largest mutual fund companies, with over $1.5 billion in assets under management. Fullgoal has four closed-end funds, two open-ended funds and it has obtained regulatory approval to launch a seventh fund in May 2004. Registered in 1999, Fullgoal's shareholders include several of China's leading securities firms and investment and trust companies. Fullgoal is one of the original fund management companies that was established with the approval of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group's wealth management businesses in Canada and the United States are part of the organization's Private Client Group. The Private Client Group provides integrated wealth management services and has total assets under management and administration and term investments of $278 billion at January 31, 2004.

BMO Financial Group in China

BMO Financial Group has a long history with China dating back to the early 1800s. In 1996, it was the first Canadian bank, the third from North America and the eighth in the world to be granted a branch license in Beijing. Today, with branch offices in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong and a representative office in Shanghai, BMO is one of the leading foreign financial institutions in China.