The Irish Farmers Journal understands that almost 1,800 loans with agriculture connections were sold by Rabobank to investment bank Goldman Sachs and distressed debt firms CarVal Investors and Cabot Financial Services.

The sale is believed to be the largest sale of farm loans to distressed debt investors since the recession.

It is also understood that the majority of loans with farm links were performing loans.

Loans with agriculture connections are usually those where a farm or farmland has been used as collateral and it is understood that farms are an attractive inclusion in loan sales as the market value of farmland provides a guaranteed asset.

The Rabobank loan sale was announced on 12 April, and comes hot on the heels of the AIB loan sale in which 100 farm loans were understood to be sold to the so-called US vulture fund Cerberus.

The entire Rabobank-ACC Loan Management portfolio had been valued at €3.2bn in the latest available accounts from the bank from 2016, but were sold for just €800m.

ACC Bank was previously known as Agricultural Credit Corporation and set up by the Irish Free State in 1927 to provide loans to farmers.

It was sold by the Irish Government to the Dutch-based Rabobank in 2002.

Rabobank said that letters should issue to affected lenders shortly and customers would still have the protection of relevant codes and regulations. Rabobank has now fully exited the Irish retail banking market.

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