Dutch lender Rabobank reports 50% fall in 2020 net profit

AMSTERDAM, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Rabobank’s 2020 net profit fell 50% to 1.096 billion euros ($1.33 billion) due mostly to loan impairments, the Dutch-based cooperative bank announced on Thursday.

Impairments on financial assets rose to 1.9 billion euros from 975 million.

“The timely and collective action of governments, regulatory bodies and Rabobank itself was instrumental in mitigating and delaying the immediate effect of COVID-19 on our clients,” Chairman Wiebe Draijer said.

“The bank does expect, however, a deterioration in the credit quality in the business loan portfolio in the course of 2021, which is reflected in the higher level of impairment allowances,” he said.

Rabobank, known primarily as an agricultural lender, said that its residential mortgage portfolio, which is the largest in the Netherlands, had remained strong “and, apart from a number of subsectors, the Food & Agri sector seems to be less impacted by this crisis.”

The bank, which has been cutting jobs for a decade, said it would shed a further 1,000 workers over the next 5 years. It will resume paying “distributions” -- the equivalent of dividends on its cooperative certificates, which are traded -- of .13674 per quarter in 2021, pending approval from the European Central Bank.

$1 = 0.8245 euros Reporting by Toby Sterling; editing by Jason Neely