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INTERVIEW-Rabobank eyes Turkey, looking at bank license

Published Apr 21, 2011 12:10PM ET
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By Sara Webb

UTRECHT, Netherlands, April 21 (Reuters) - Dutch lender Rabobank is keen to apply for a banking license in Turkey because of the potential for financing the agriculture and food sector, its chief financial officer said on Thursday.

Rabobank, a cooperative bank which is one of the top global players in the wholesale agri and food business, wants to expand in countries with a large agricultural sector, CFO Bert Bruggink told Reuters in an interview.

"China, India, Turkey and Poland are very important economies from that perspective," he said.

Bruggink said Rabobank preferred to grow by expanding its own business rather than through acquisitions, but did not rule out making small acquisitions which could serve as "stepping stones" for growth in such countries.

Rabobank earlier this month got approval to open a branch and establish a banking presence in India, allowing it to accept deposits.

It tried to buy a Turkish bank several years ago, but the deal fell through, Bruggink said, adding "we have no banking license ... we are looking at applying."

Turkey, with a young, increasingly wealthy population of 74 million, is one of the emerging world's most attractive and most highly capitalised banking sectors. Turkish media last month reported that Rabobank was in talks with Turkey's banking watchdog.

Rabobank was one of the few Dutch lenders to come through the global financial crisis unscathed, whereas its rivals, ABN AMRO and ING, required billions of euros of state funds.

ABN AMRO was nationalised, and will be sold most likely through an initial public offering, while ING is in the final stages of paying back the state.

Bruggink said he expects to see consolidation in the Dutch financial sector, including in asset management and private banking, in the next five years, driven by the introduction of new capital requirements and the aftermath of the financial crisis.

"The landscape will change quite a bit," he said.

Rabobank increased its own market share in areas such as deposits as a result of the crisis.

Today, Rabobank has a domestic market share of about one third for investment banking, about 30 percent of the mortgage business, about 40 percent of the savings sector, about 40 percent of private banking, and 85 percent of agricultural business, he said.

The bank made a record first-quarter net profit, Bruggink said, adding that "2011 so far looks very good," prompting the bank to raise its profit forecast for the full year.

Unlisted Rabobank publishes its full-year financial results but not its quarterly figures. He did not provide further details.

Rabobank reported record net profit for 2010 of 2.772 billion euros, up 26 percent from the previous year, and in March had said that it expected 2011 to be "challenging". (Reporting by Sara Webb; Editing by Gilbert Kreijger)

INTERVIEW-Rabobank eyes Turkey, looking at bank license

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