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Rabobank announces new Australian CEO

Rabobank has announced the appointment of Peter Knoblanche to the role of Chief Executive Officer for Rabobank Australia and Managing Director for the Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group.

He will succeed Thos Gieskes, who has served in these positions for six and a half years.

Subject to regulatory approval, the appointment will be effective from July 1, 2016.

Mr Knoblanche has been Deputy CEO for Rabobank Australia and Deputy Managing Director for Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group since August 2015. He has headed Rabobank’s Australian rural banking operations for the past 10 years, most recently as Group Executive Country Banking Australia.

The world’s leading specialist food and agribusiness bank, Rabobank is one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest rural lenders and a major provider of corporate and business banking services to the region’s food and agribusiness sector.

Rabobank Australia Chairman Bill Gurry said Mr Knoblanche’s appointment ensured a seamless, smooth and orderly succession at the helm of Rabobank in Australia and overseeing the bank’s regional operations in Australia and New Zealand.

“Not only is Peter one of the most experienced and highly-regarded agri banking executives in Australia, he has an extensive knowledge and understanding of Rabobank, our clients and the markets in which we operate,” he said.

“During his 20 years with the bank thus far, Peter has had the opportunity to gain in-depth experience across the breadth of the business, working with our Country Banking farming clients as well as Wholesale corporate food and agribusiness clients and small to medium enterprises operating in the food and agri value chain. In addition, as part of the Rabobank’s Group executive team, he has had exposure to both the RaboDirect retail deposits business and Rabobank’s regional operations in New Zealand.”

Prior to heading Rabobank’s Australian Country Banking division, Mr Knoblanche had spent 10 years working with the bank in structured trade finance, corporate banking, structured commodity finance and commodity price risk management.

He has more than 30 years’ experience in the Australian and international banking industry, previously working in roles with HSBC (in Australia and Hong Kong) and ANZ.

Mr Knoblanche holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Wollongong and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr Gurry said the combination of Mr Knoblanche’s banking expertise and experience, strong knowledge of the food and agriculture sector, business acumen and leadership skills made him ideally placed to lead the ongoing development of Rabobank in Australia and the broader Australian and New Zealand region.

“Most importantly, for a business which is part of a cooperative that has a global focus on food and agribusiness, Peter has the interests of our clients and the food and agri sector at the absolute heart of his approach to business.”

Mr Knoblanche said it was a “privilege” to take on the position of Australian CEO and regional Managing Director, and he was looking forward to “continuing to build on Rabobank’s international and local strengths in the food and agri sector”.

“I see a very bright future for what is already a successful agricultural industry in Australia and New Zealand, and it really is a privilege to be involved in this through an organisation like Rabobank, which has such a special and important role in supporting the food and agricultural sector both locally and globally.”

Mr Gurry thanked outgoing Australian CEO and regional Managing Director Thos Gieskes for his significant contribution in leading Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group through a “period of impressive growth in the bank’s development in this region”, with the Group enjoying six consecutive years of record business growth, as well as market-leading scores for both client satisfaction and employee engagement.

Mr Gieskes, who prior to heading Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group had been CEO of Rabobank in Chile for seven years, moves to the bank’s head office in the Netherlands.

Mr Gieskes said it had been a “wonderful experience and fantastic opportunity” to work with the Australian and New Zealand food and agribusiness sector over the past six years, as it had grown and developed along with the international demand for the region’s agricultural production.

“Australian and New Zealand farmers and agribusinesses are undoubtedly among the very best in the world, and our agricultural production is rightly very highly valued and sought after for its quality and clean, green reputation. I have no doubt agriculture here will continue to go from strength to strength in the years ahead as global demand grows and as the local sector pursues strategies to improve productivity and increase value-adding.”

Mr Gieskes said he was pleased to be leaving Rabobank Australia & New Zealand in a strong and healthy position to support that future growth.

A successor to Mr Knoblanche as Group Executive Country Banking Australia will be announced at a later date.

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is a part of the international Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 115 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of approximately 8.6 million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is one of Australasia’s leading rural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the region’s food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 94 branches throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Media contacts:

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand
Phone: 02 8115 2744 or 0439 603 525

Skye Ward
Media Relations Manager
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand
Phone: 02 4855 1111 or 0418 216 103