RABOBANK Australia and New Zealand Group has agreed to purchase the rural lending portfolio of AMP Bank in New Zealand.
The portfolio - which comprises A$222 million (NZ$249 million) of loans to primary producers throughout New Zealand - is planned to transfer to Rabobank's ownership by July 1, 2003, subject to regulatory approval.
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand chief executive officer Bruce Dick said the portfolio represented an excellent fit with Rabobank's expanding Australasian rural lending business.
"Our Australian and New Zealand rural lending business has been undergoing significant growth in the past two years," he said.
"AMP Bank's New Zealand rural portfolio fits perfectly both with Rabobank's specialist agricultural focus and our growth strategy in the New Zealand market," he said.
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is part of the international Rabobank group, the world's largest specialist food and agribusiness bank.
The Rabobank group is positioned as the third largest lender to rural Australia, with approximately 17pc of the country's A$27 billion farm bank debt.
In New Zealand, the group has about 12pc share of the country's NZ$17.2 billion farm bank debt.
The addition of AMP Bank's rural loans will increase Rabobank's New Zealand loan portfolio by about 10pc.
Mr Dick said he expected the transaction to be a positive development for AMP Bank's rural clients.
"Rabobank's specialist rural focus means we are fully committed to the rural and agribusiness sectors. Rabobank understands the industry and the issues facing farmers at a local and international level," he said.
Mr Dick said Rabobank was very optimistic about the outlook for the agricultural sector in Australia and New Zealand.
"Australian and New Zealand producers rank among the best in the world and give us great confidence in the future of the sector," he said.