Rabobank sees FY result close to record 2008

LONDON Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:46am EST

LONDON (Reuters) - Unlisted Dutch bank Rabobank RABO.UL expects its full-year results be to be "pretty close" to its record 2008, its finance chief told Reuters, with an improvement coming in the second half.

"We will not beat the record year 2008 this year, but we will be getting pretty close to it," Chief Financial Officer Bert Bruggink told the Reuters Global Finance Summit.

"In the second half we see similar developments, both the (profit and loss account) as well as equity is developing in a very positive manner," he said.

The cooperative bank -- which has a rare triple-A credit rating -- said in August its half-year net profit fell to 1.3 billion euros from 1.6 billion in the same period last year, as bad debt costs increased seven-fold.

Bruggink now sounded a more optimistic note about loan provisions, saying the second half of this year would be better than the first, and 2010 would show a further improvement.

"We have seen the deepest in that respect and from now on we will see, slightly but surely, improvements," he said.

The bank would consider acquisitions in the Netherlands and abroad, though they would under normal circumstances be quite small, and should not affect its cherished top-notch rating.

"There is a lot for sale, not only in the U.S... We are looking every now and then at potential acquisitions. We are usually talking about very small ones, both domestically, if we can, as well as internationally," Bruggink said. He put the maximum at "maybe a few hundred millions."

The bank had looked at some portfolios that were up for sale from American banks, and had been bidding in some of the offers by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC).

"These were typical agricultural portfolios ... we are still looking, knowing that the list of the banks going into the FDIC portfolio is growing almost daily," he said.

There could still be deals before the year-end, with a maximum size of $200 million.

"There are not that many in the pipeline," he said.

Internationally, Rabobank is looking to expand its food and agricultural businesses. Outside the United States, it was also looking to do so in New Zealand and Australia.

(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; editing by John Stonestreet)