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Rabobank Groep Chairman Piet Moerland Will Retire Next Year

Rabobank Groep Chairman Piet Moerland will retire next year after more than 30 years at the biggest Dutch mortgage bank.

Moerland announced his departure at an annual meeting with cooperative members of Rabobank in the Dutch city of Utrecht today. The supervisory board will choose his successor, according to a written statement from the bank.

Moerland, 64, who has led the bank since 2009, resigns as the bank grapples with regulatory scrutiny and the Dutch economy continues to contract, paring demand for loans and making it more difficult for borrowers to repay. Rabobank, formed in 1898 to serve Dutch farmers, has been embroiled in global probes into rigging of benchmark interest rates.

Rabobank is the only Dutch contributor to the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the benchmark for more than $300 trillion of securities. It expects to “close the Libor file with regulators” this year, Moerland said today.

Tom Hayes, the former UBS AG and Citigroup Inc. derivatives trader, conspired with employees at HSBC Holdings Plc, Rabobank and other banks to manipulate Libor rates, prosecutors from the U.K. Serious Fraud Office said today.

Downsizing Plan

Rabobank is also revising its cooperative banking model to reduce costs and ensure better compliance with regulatory rules, including documenting mortgage lending, Moerland said. The number of independent local banks that form the cooperative will be reduced to about 100 from 136 amid increased compliance and regulation, Rabobank said.

While Rabobank is in transition “the new chairman would need to have a sense of the bank’s history and its cooperative nature,” supervisory board Chairman Wout Dekker said today.

The firm expects 8,000 jobs will disappear at its Dutch consumer bank in the coming years as customers switch to mobile and Internet banking, Moerland said. The number of bank branches will drop to less than 500 from 826 in 2012, he said.

Net income at Rabobank fell in three out of the four years Moerland has been in charge, as the financial crisis and a recession in Europe ravaged banks’ profits. Assets grew to 752 billion euros ($991 billion) last year from 612 billion euros in 2008. The core Tier 1 capital ratio, a key measure of financial strength, increased to 13.2 percent last year from 10.7 percent four years previously.

Dutch gross domestic product will probably contract 1 percent this year, the central planning agency said last week. House prices, which have fallen about 20 percent from a 2008 peak, will continue to decline in the next two years, the central bank said earlier this month.

The bank didn’t receive state aid during the financial crisis or the European debt crisis that followed. ING Groep NV, the biggest Dutch financial-services company, got a taxpayer bailout in 2008 while ABN Amro Group NV and SNS Reaal NV were nationalized.

Rabobank Groep consists of local member banks, the Utrecht-based Rabobank Nederland, an international unit and subsidiaries. Rabobank cooperatives have about 1.9 million members. They can contribute to the capital of Rabobank Nederland through member certificates. The outstanding amount of member certificates is 6.6 billion euros, about 15 percent of group equity.

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