Rabobank is an international bank based in the Netherlands with offices throughout Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. This is a huge bank present in 48 countries and, as of 2011, ranked as the 29th largest bank in the world. Not only that, it's also considered the 6th safest bank in the world.
What makes Rabobank unique is it's actually owned and made up of 141 local cooperative banks. Customers of local Rabobanks can also become members or owners of the local bank. These local banks in turn are the shareholders of Rabobank Nederlands. Rabobank Nederlands in turn is part of Rabobank Group which also comprises other subsidiaries and its international operations.
It’s really amazing how a bank which retains its own unique structure can operate and compete in the global financial arena where banks have the straightforward stockholder owned corporate structure. Rabobank, while operating like any other corporation, has stuck to its cooperative roots. Being one of the world’s largest and safest banks is proof that the unique setup works.
Like other banks, its central office guides the whole organization. Yet with Rabobank, the central office or entity (Rabobank Nederlands) also plays more the role of servicing the other independently-run local Rabobanks. These local Rabobanks are not treated like local branches of a big national bank. After all, they are the owners of Rabobank Nederlands. Somehow this setup works for the bank in its Netherlands operations.
This bank is also is rooted in agricultural finance and continues to be a global leader in agricultural lending while having expanded its other banking services in other sectors such as corporate finance.
Although Rabobank does not fit in the stereotype category of an international bank it has been able to leverage its cooperative origins where customers can also be members and owners. This means being close to their customers; this trait has helped them become a global success story.