Rooted in agriculture, Rabobank is set up as a federation of local credit unions, which offer services to the local markets. The central organisation is the daughter organisation of the local branches, rather than the parent organisation, as is the case with most banks.
The bank is rooted in the ideas of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, the founder of the cooperative movement of credit unions who in 1864 created the first farmers' bank in Germany. Being a countryside mayor he was confronted with the abject poverty of the farmers and their families. He tried to alleviate this need through a variety of charitable activities. He soon realised, however, that self-reliance had more potential in the long run than charitable aid. He therefore converted his charitable foundations into a farmers' bank in 1864. In doing so he created the Darlehnskassen-Verein, it collected the savings of the countryside dwellers and provided the enterprising but needy farmers with loans.
This model found a lot of interest in the Netherlands at the end of the 19th century. One of the first of Raiffeisen's followers was father Gerlacus van den Elsen who stood at the basis of a number of local farmers'banks in the south of the Netherlands. The model caught on being championed by the clergy and the countryside elites. The mission of the farmers' lending banks was an idealistic one but they always operated using strict business principles. Controversially, a founding principle of Rabobank's co-operative style was to co-operate in the interests of "warding off the Shylock". The cooperative bank model assured a tight bond between invested capital and the community.
- Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Bank in Utrecht
- Coöperatieve Centrale Boerenleenbank in Eindhoven
The first was formed as a cooperation of 6 local banks and the latter as a cooperation of 22 local banks. These two existed side by side for three quarters of a century despite their obvious similarities. The reasons for this owed in part to legal disagreements. The most important difference, however, was cultural. The Eindhoven based Boerenleenbank had a decidedly catholic signature while the Raiffeisen-Bank had a protestant background. In the past the Netherlands underwent a process of pillarisation or verzuiling, which in practice meant that members of different religious congregations and political movements essentially lived side by side each other without contact between the two. The religious backgrounds found their way to the organisational structure as well; the Eindhoven organisation stressed a highly centralised structure while the Utrecht organisation promoted local autonomy.
By 1940 the two organisations cooperated with each other, albiet on a limited scale. Three major developments caused a further tightening of the bonds between the two:
- Increasing number of offices - leading to increased local competition
- A gradual fading of the confessional differences between the two
- An increasing demand for capital in the Dutch industry, which in turn led to higher concentration in the banking business
In 1972 the two organisation merged. The name Rabobank is a portmanteau of Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank. The organisation chose Amsterdam to be its statutory headquarter due to the historical neutrality in relation to the founding organisations. As of 1980 the central organisation is referred to as Rabobank Nederland.
Rabo purchased Lend Lease Agro Business ,an Australian based company, in 2003.
Source : Wikipedia