ANOTHER lender entered the UK market yesterday with the launch of AgriBank, which will offer savings accounts to the general public but will only hand out loans to farmers.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has led the calls for more banks to enter the UK, with American investor Vernon Hill launching Metro Bank in London and Cambridge & Counties Bank being set up by a local authority pension fund and one of Cambridge University’s colleges.
Now former Barclays banker Frank Sekula and ex-BNP Paribas executive Matthew Smart are eyeing the farm finance sector, which grew 9 per cent last year.
AgriBank – which holds a European banking licence issued by the Malta Financial Services Authority and has been approved to offer banking services in the UK by the Financial Services Authority – will target savers with a bond paying 3.6 per cent interest but will not be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Sekula, whose family has an arable farm in the Cotswolds, was head of high-yield capital markets at Barclays between 1998 and 2003.
Smart, whose family farm is a mixed arable and livestock operation on the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens, founded Eastern Counties Finance, which has secured £400 million of funds for farmers in the past 12 years.
In Malta, AgriBank will be run by chief executive Roderick Psaila, former head of the Central Bank of Malta’s Financial Stability Office. The bank’s chairman is Joe Borg, formerly a European Union commissioner and Central Bank of Malta director.