Rabobank picks Fonterra founder to head Aussie board

NZ dairy farmer leads Rabobank's Australian business


Agribusiness
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Dairy farmer and former chairman of the giant dairy Fonterra will succeed Rabobank Australia chairman, Bill Gurry.

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New Zealand agribusiness identity Sir Henry van der Heyden will head Rabobank's Australian board of directors.

New Zealand agribusiness identity Sir Henry van der Heyden will head Rabobank's Australian board of directors.

The man who led the formation of New Zealand’s super-sized Fonterra dairy co-operative is to become chairman of Rabobank Australia.

Sir Henry van der Heyden, a successful NZ dairy farmer, farm sector investor and former chairman of the giant dairy co-operative for 10 years until 2012, will succeed long-serving finance and investment market boss, Bill Gurry, who is due to retire from Rabobank’s board.

Sir Henry is already chairman of Rabobank NZ and has been a member of the Rabobank Australia board since 2012.

His extra chairmanship role with the big agricultural lender begins on November 29.

Mr Gurry remains a board member until a later date still to be announced.

Agribusiness high achiever

Sir Henry's extensive knowledge and experience as a global agribusiness leader and company director, coupled with his strong understanding of Rabo in Australia, made him a natural successor, according to Rabobank Group’s global chairman in the Netherlands, Wiebe Draijer.

"Henry’s skills and experience as a business leader, his passion for agriculture, and his deep knowledge and understanding of Rabobank and our unique co-operative banking model, will allow for a smooth transition at the helm,” Mr Draijer said.

Sir Henry is also Auckland International Airport chairman and also chairs Manuka SA and Tainui Group Holdings, the commercial arm of leading tribal organisation Waikato-Tainui.

Henry van der Heyden is one of the most skilled and respected leaders in agribusiness in Australasia - Wiebe Draijer, Rabobank Group global chairman

He sits on the boards of grocery distribution co-op Foodstuffs North Island, and farmland investor group Pascaro Investments, in which he also a significant shareholder.

A career-long dairy farmer, he and his family continue to run substantial dairy operations in NZ’s Central North Island.

As a former farm lobby leader Sir Henry became a key architect in the formation of the Fonterra co-operative and was the 2015 winner of Rabobank’s widely respected trans-Tasman agribusiness leadership award.

“He is one of the most skilled and respected leaders in agribusiness in Australasia,” said Mr Draijer, who also credited the retiring Mr Gurry as being an outstanding chairman.

Mr Draijer thanked Mr Gurry for an "exceptional tenure" on the bank’s board, overseeing more than a decade of extraordinary growth in the business.

"Bill has made an absolutely outstanding contribution during more than eight and a half years in the role of chairman of Rabobank Australia, and serving on the boards of both Rabobank Australia and Rabobank NZ for more than 12 years," he said.

Mr Gurry’s previous senior financial services industry roles included executive chairman of UBS Australia, chief executive of Potter Warburg and managing director of National Mutual Royal Bank.

Mr Gurry said he had been delighted to have had such strong and close involvement with the agricultural sector through his time with Rabobank.

Sir Henry was looking forward to taking on the chairman’s job in Australia “at such an exciting time of growth for the agricultural sector”.

Rabo is one of Australia’s largest farm sector  lenders and a major provider of corporate and business banking services to the country’s food and agribusiness sector.

The bank is the world’s leading specialist food and agribusiness bank and also operates online retail savings and deposits business RaboDirect.

Other members of Rabobank Australia’s board are Anne Brennan, Andy Borland, Berry Marttin, Geerten Battjes, Sander Pruis and Rabobank Australia chief executive officer, Peter Knoblanche.

Rabobank is one of Australia’s largest agricultural lenders and a major provider of corporate and business banking services to the food and agribusiness sector via 94 branches in Australia and NZ.

It also operates online retail savings and deposits business RaboDirect.

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