Strategic Direction

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Larysa Bondarieva

This is the conversation about strategy for servicing agribusiness in Ukraine, products for agro customers, specifics of work with different customer segments, and Credit Agricole’s goals with Larysa Bondarieva, Member of the Management Board in charge of corporate business, SME and agri-agro.

- According to the State Statistics Service data, export of goods from Ukraine showed a 12.7% increase in the first half of 2018 YoY. In your opinion, how do international markets perceive Ukrainian agro export this year?

In 2018, we have been witnessing favourable pricing environment for Ukrainian exporters of agricultural products. One of the reasons was the drought in Europe which caused rise in grain prices, and growing demand for Ukrainian agricultural products – wheat, corn, and rape. Traditionally, Ukrainian exporters supply wheat to Egypt and Asian countries (Indonesia took the first place this year), barley to the Saudi Arabia, and rape – to the EU to produce biodiesel. Speaking of corn, the EU still remains the key destination for Ukrainian export, while China takes the second place since supplies to this country increase from year to year. When it comes to livestock products, Ukraine has intensified export of poultry to the European Union by 80%, and it is crutial that quality of Ukrainian products meets the European standards.

– What is the strategy of Credit Agricole Ukraine for servicing agricultural companies? What has changed in 2018 in comparison with the previous year?

Our strategy for servicing agribusiness remains unchanged, we steadily support agricultural business which is our strategic direction not only in Ukraine, but also worldwide for the Credit Agricole Group. Naturally, Ukraine having congenial climatic conditions, experience, successful performance in agricultural market altogether is very important for the Credit Agricole Group. Today we work with all segments of agricultural market, the whole value chain from producer to exporter and processor.

– What products does the bank offer to agribusiness?

Our high quality consulting is our strength. We offer a full range of products, of course. For exporters we offer credit products, pre- and post-export financing which can be arranged in the bank office in Ukraine as well as in its offices in Great Britain and Switzerland. Small companies are offered highly-demanded seasonal financing, however in recent years the focus has shifted to investment loans as companies renew their machinery and production facilities. The bank provides large Ukrainian companies with working capital and infrastructure project finance.

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– The share of agro export is about 30% in the structure of export of Ukrainian goods. What services is the bank ready to render to agro exporters?

We are the core bank for exporters, large Ukrainian and international companies not only in our country, but also globally. Our service and interaction chains for such customers are built up well. We have a lot of offers for Ukrainian exporters both within the country and beyond as the bank is a part of the international Group, and when a company needs support for its international activities we deliver it with the help of our colleagues from the countries of the Group’s presence. New markets often require additional expertise and experience, hence the consulting from the bank is so important, and that’s what we offer. In general, we deliver a full range of services including financing, maintenance of international contracts, and consulting to exporters.

– How does Credit Agricole Ukraine assess new customers? What factors are taken into account?

Reputation is a starting point. That’s what the market says about the company, its image, how the company is percieved through the lens of its relations with society, partners, and not only with financial institutions. We assess the company from various perspectives, figures is not the only thing that matters. Obviously, financial culture of the customer is important for us. We assess cash flows in order to forecast how loans would be repaid. We analyze the management quality as well. Basically, we focus on agro model analysis, and for this purpose the bank employs agronomists, vets, and agro analysts.

– Please explain the difference between servicing large agricultural enterprises and small agricultural companies.

Small companies is a segment which needs to be tought and they are ready to learn. They should learn the best practices in running finances and using bank products. Medium companies show readiness to make investments, renovate fixed assets, and import equipment from abroad. Consulting on the set of bank products which would enable them successfully reach their targets, which has particular importance in such a case. Large holdings involved in export activities require our assistance in making a bridge for interaction with our foreign colleagues who would advise on markets and structure their business transactions. I'd like to note that mention that synergies and expertise from the Group's dedicated business lines and entities available for agri clients are highly valued.

– What are the plans of Credit Agricole Ukraine for the next six months?

At all times agro business is the strategic direction of the bank, our zone for development, including for staff training. We see exactly what needs to be enhanced, so we started “Agri school” for employees. The project includes learning all cycles of agricultural production, presentations by the best agro experts on the market, and visiting agicultural companies. Two modules of “Agri school” have already been completed. It is a very important move both for the bank and our customers, yet it is a considerable investment in our employees. New knowledge will make it possible to better understand the agro companies’ needs, to handle their requests more promtly and effectively, as well as to expand cooperation. Agro business is a primary focus of Credit Agricole Ukraine. And we make every effort to support the development of our agro customers.
Ukraine having successful performance in agricultural market altogether is very important for the Credit Agricole Group.
Interviewed by Nataliya Boguta

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