Santander Río aims to keep growing agriculture lending above 40% in 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Santander Río aims to keep growing lending to Argentina's agriculture sector above 40% in 2011 given its good prospects and coupled with a broader gamut of products, the bank's agribusiness manager, Pablo Bullrich, told BNamericas.

The local unit of Spain's Santander (NYSE: STD) grew loans to the agribusiness sector by 44% last year, to 1.4bn pesos (US$350mn).

"Given the strong demand for commodities, the agricultural and livestock business will grow significantly if the weather is benign," Bullrich said.

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"In this scenario, the sector's companies will post good results, will reinvest part of their earnings, agriculture machinery sales will rise, the sowing surface will increase and demand for fertilizers and agrochemicals will increase. In the end, production will increase as well as loan demand," he noted.

To keep up with increased loan demand from this sector, the bank has added specific products and services and will open new branches in the country's provinces this year, Bullrich said.

Santander Río is Argentina's largest private bank in terms of deposits and loans. It operates through 283 branches nationwide and services about 2mn customers.

The full interview with Bullrich will be published in this week's Banking Perspectives, for subscribers only.