AMSTERDAM Feb 16 Dutch lender Rabobank
reported underlying full-year profit up 14 percent,
boosted by the country's economic growth and higher
international agricultural lending, as its cost-saving
restructuring continues apace.
The cooperative bank announced in December 2015 that it
would shed 9,000 jobs, then a fifth of its workforce, and reduce
its balance sheet by 150 billion euros by 2020 to become more
resilient to financial shocks.
The restructuring is "proceeding at high speed", CEO Wiebe
Draijer said in a statement on Thursday after the company
reported 2016 results.
"This asks a great deal from our employees. Many of them are
seeing their jobs disappear as a consequence of digitalisation
of our services and the implementation of much-needed
improvements, particularly in the back-office and support
Rabobank's underlying profit rose to 4.09 billion euros
($4.34 billion), though net income fell 9 percent to 2.02
billion euros because of restructuring charges and impairments,
having shed 6,446 jobs to end the year with 45,567 employees.
The company finished the year with a Tier 1 capital ratio of
13.5 percent and said it aims to achieve a targeted 14 percent
ahead of schedule, in expectation of a possible increase in
capital requirements under new international regulations.
In January the company issued 1.5 billion euros worth of new
cooperative certificates, which are its equity, increasing
solvency by an additional 0.8 percentage points.
Rabobank, which vies with ABN Amro as the largest
Dutch mortgage lender, has begun selling some of its home loans
portfolio to reduce its balance sheet.
"We intend to take more of the loan portfolio off-balance
and will continue to reduce the balance sheet in 2017,” it said.
The balance sheet shrank to 662 billion euros of assets by
the end of 2016, from 679 billion euros a year earlier.
($1 = 0.9423 euros)
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by David Goodman)