Westpac wants to lend to big farmers

Westpac has launched an aggressive campaign to win the banking business of Australia's 2500 biggest farmers. Graham Jennings, head of Westpac's agribusiness and regional commercial division, said “Our aim is to be the preferred or most recommended financial institution in agribusiness.”

NAB and Rabobank hold the largest slice of Australia's booming agribusiness banking sector. Westpac is ranked about third or fourth in the marketplace, along with ANZ and Commonwealth Bank, after decisions to do away with many rural managers and close small country town branches resulted in it relinquishing its prime rural lending position in the 1990s.

Westpac's new agribusiness strategy focuses on the three major farm commodities of beef, dairy and grain, and targeting the 2500 highest-value primary producers with a business turnover of more than $5 million a year.

In the past five years, Westpac has doubled its rural business and, in 2010-11, outgrown the expansion of its competitors. It now commands about $10 billion of the $60bn total farm debt owed to all banks, with about 10,000 farm business customers nationwide.

Source: The Australian