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Desjardins fourth-quarter losses total 476 million
MONTREAL (3/4/09)--Desjardins Financial Group, Quebec's largest credit union, saw member dividends sink 64% to $215 million in 2008, down from 2007's total of $592 million as a result of investments in asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) and the global financial crisis. The financial cooperative experienced a $476 million loss during fourth quarter 2008, before member dividends. A year earlier, Desjardins had reported a $273 million surplus (The Canadian Press March 2). The cooperative attributed the losses to the divestment of its hedge fund holdings, which supported Desjardins' guaranteed capital investments. Desjardins President Monique Leroux said that the credit unions are encouraged to pour their surpluses into their reserves, which would result in reduced member dividends. Its guaranteed capital investments included $785 million in ABCP, a short term investment vehicle that was hit by the subprime mortgage crisis in the U.S., said the article. Desjardins' surplus earnings for 2008 fell 93%--to $78 million from $1.1 billion in 2007. Fourth quarter 2008 revenues totaled $1.73 billion, a 36% decline from a year earlier. Revenues for the entire year totaled $8.37 billion, which was 13% less than in 2007.

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