I endeavored to hire professionals at various levels in the organization starting from the management board.
The next stage transpired in 2003 when we devised a memorandum and managed to shortlist two investors. One of them was an industrial investor, namely Rabobank while the other one consisted of three investments funds. It was clear that each one of these investors espoused somewhat different objectives. Rabo wanted to join BGŻ on account of our profile in Food and Agri holding the conviction that the Polish economy has great prospects in this area. It was not in error as over the subsequent 11 years of our EU mem- bership exports of food and agricultural products trended upward at a clip in excess of 10% per annum. In turn, the goal of the investment funds was to acquire the Bank for a reasonable price and flip it after three years. We selected the industrial investor avenue recognizing that its objectives are significantly more long-term coupled with BGŻ being in need of profound restructuring and equity backing. This investor stipulated the condition that it must obtain more than 50% of the votes at the Shareholder Meeting. This operation was very sensitive on account of the resolution adopted by the parliament according to which the issue could not exceed 30%. That is why we resolved to invite EBRD to join this cooperation. After buying shares from cooperative banks, the Dutch and EBRD jointly held a 50.3% stake in the Shareholder Meeting. This entire operation was highly intricate with its kick-off in Q4 2004. EBRD withdrew in 2008. In turn, the Polish State Treasury expected to execute its own exit through an IPO. We administered this process as a result of which the State Treasury divested a 12% stake, retaining a 25% stake. In 2012 Rabobank acquired this stake from the State Treasury. In this manner it accumulated a 98% stake.
Why did the Dutch elect to sell BGŻ?
I must admit that this decision was a major surprise to me, especially since Rabo is a bank that is genuinely committed to the Food and Agri market, it has cooperative roots and for the full duration of our cooperation the Dutch had constantly emphasized that they treat Poland as a country where they are making a long-term investment with enormous pros- pects for agricultural development. I remember that Rabobank s strategy in 2009 named Poland as one of the eight countries in which Rabobank wants to develop its business, albeit not according to the same model according to which it operated in other regions of the world where it operates under the Rabobank brand. For as a cooperative bank they did not want to be tied to the public market. Even so, formally we were a member of the Rabo Group and that was how it was supposed to stay.
So, what happened?
Well, what happened was that the crisis hit starting with Lehman Brothers going under, some banks went bankrupt, others received high value subsidies from state budgets to cover their losses. Rabobank, however, appeared to be a bank that had weathered the
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