Rabobank, the giant food and agribusiness lender, is celebrating 25 years in the US, the world’s biggest oilseed producer.

When Rabobank opened its New York office in April 1981, the bank focused on providing medium-term lending to US agribusiness firms along with commodity and trade financing between the US and the Netherlands. A quarter of a century later, the bank’s US operations have US$50bn in assets, over 1,600 employees and 39 retail branches in California.

In the last 12 months, the bank grew between 15% and 20% in the US, says Cor Broekhuyse, chief executive officer of Rabobank in the Americas.
“In the coming years we will grow [the US] franchise further,” affirms Broekhuyse, who doesn ‘t rule out acquiring new assets in the US in the near future. Earlier this year the bank acquired Community Bank of Central California.

The Utrecht, Netherlands-headquartered bank has about US$30bn in loans in the US, of which roughly half is agribusiness related, says Broekhuyse. The remainder accounts for capital markets operations and structured finance business spanning diverse industries, sectors and financial institutions, he adds.

Rabobank backs the whole food chain in the US, comprising growers, processors and exporters. Support ranges from short-term export-related loans and one-year working capital to 20 years’ financing of processing operations, says Broekhuyse.

“Given the situation in the US, we are not reluctant to go out longer to the market,” he says. But the US market is very competitive and that is reflected on “some pressure on the pricing,” he concedes.

Exporters make up a “substantial” part of Rabobank’s agribusiness portfolio, Broekhuyse comments. The bank’s 39 branches service businesses, developers and investors and individuals.

Still celebrating the 25th anniversary, employees from each of Rabobank’s US businesses and offices are engaging in volunteer work and/or charitable activities in their home markets. And the 20 employees who have 25 years of service with the bank in the US will be honoured.

Rabobank has a AAA credit rating from both Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s . In 2002, the bank acquired Californian retail bank Valley Independent Bank and in the following year it purchased Lend Lease Agribusiness and Ag Services of America. Presently, both make up Rabo AgriFinance.

Rabobank has offices in New York, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta and was founded as a banking cooperative in 1896 by Dutch farmers.