Agribank is licensed as a credit institution and are regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA).

The Sunday Times, 17th February 2013

Two former City investment bankers have created an institution to lend to Britain’s cash-starved farmers, writes Iain Dey.

Agribank will be launched this week, offering loans for agricultural equipment.  It will be funded with fixed-term savings products sold to ordinary British households through independent financial advisers.

Frank Sekula, former head of high-yield capital markets at Barclays Capital, has set up the business with Matthew Smart, a former BNP Paribas banker who runs the agricultural finance broker Eastern Counties Finance.

Sekula, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, runs a 2,000-acre arable farm in the Cotswolds.  His father-in-law, a former grain trader from Memphis, Tennessee, acquired the farm several years ago.

Smart’s family has been farming in the Cambridgeshire fens for generations.  Since starting Eastern Counties 12 years ago, Smart claims he has never lost money on a loan to a farmer.

The bank has been set up in Malta and is lending into the UK through the European Union’s passport system.  The savings bonds are not covered by any depositor guarantee scheme, but as a result, will pay interest rates about 10% higher than the rest of the market.

Sekula and Smart set up the bank with £6.5m of capital and own the business 50-50.  They hope to lend about £60m in the first year, with most of the deals sourced through Eastern Counties.

Sekula said:  “A lot of banks have pulled back from agricultural lending and from asset finance.  We understand farming, and we know the risks.”

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