In the first half of 2020 the COVID-19 situation had a major impact on our bank and our customers. We provided temporary financial relief to a total of approximately 80,000 customers (7,500 private customers and 72,500 business clients), maintained our strong capital and liquidity position and posted a modest positive net result of 227 million.
Never before have we faced such rapidly changing circumstances as in this first half year, due to COVID-19. Its impact has been enormous. First and foremost, it caused a health crisis and massive suffering across the world. It also hit the economy hard. Our customers and all our employees have been affected by multiple aspects of the corona virus, sometimes facing profound and far-reaching impacts. Moreover, the pandemic is not over yet.
As a result of consistent execution of strategy, our bank was in a strong position when the outbreak started. Our strong buffers will help us see us through this difficult period and to support our customers and the economy. We were able to quickly adapt to the new reality and continued delivering services to our customers mainly through digital channels. In addition, we provided temporary financial relief to our customers through, for instance, payment holidays for loan instalments and repayments, payment holidays for lease payments and no forced home sales due to arrears. Also, our IBAN-name check service SurePay (Rabo Moonshot venture) is being used by the Dutch and UK government to verify that COVID-19 payments are distributed to the right beneficiaries.
Our net result for the first half year 2020 was EUR 227 million. This lower result compared to the same period in 2019 can be primarily attributed to the impact of COVID-19. The persistent low interest rate environment also played a role though. The effects of COVID-19 are reflected in the significantly higher loan impairment charges, which have increased to EUR 1,442 (H1 2019: 440) million, equivalent to 69 (H1 2019: 23) basis points of the average loan portfolio. We remain the mortgage market leader in the Netherlands with a market share of 22%. Income was down due to lower economic activity and negative asset revaluations driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Operating costs continued on their downward trend, thanks in part to the deconsolidation of RNA in the United States. in 2019. The cost/income ratio rose to 65.3%.
The loan portfolio remained relatively stable at EUR 415.4 billion. Thanks to our strategic focus the Food & Agri loan portfolio grew by EUR 1.1 billion to EUR 108.3 billion. Rabobank remains the mortgage market leader in the Netherlands with a market share of 22%. Deposits from retail and wholesale customers rose by EUR 23.0 billion (+8%) in the first half of 2020. This is in line with the general trend in the Dutch savings market related to the impact of COVID-19 and includes the seasonal impact of holiday allowances.
Our capital position remains robust with a common equity tier 1 (CET 1) ratio of 16.6%, which is well above the supervisory requirement and exceeds our own ambition of at least 14%. In turbulent times, our bank demonstrated yet again its ongoing strong access to funding and capital by issuing a number of transactions in different formats and currencies. The return on equity amounted to 1.1% (5.9% in the first half of 2019).
The coming period will be marked by uncertainty. It is still not clear how the pandemic will develop in the second half of 2020, how long it will last, or what measures will be needed to bring the virus under control. The first wave of COVID-19 has shown the agility and resilience of our organization to adapt to the new reality. The measures we took during this period will help us adapt even faster if a second wave occurs.
In line with our mission of Growing a better world together, we will continue to help our customers weather this crisis. However, even the generous government support measures and our own initiatives will not be enough for everyone. We will see the impact of COVID-19 reflected in our full-year results for 2020 and we will remain focused on our costs. We will further strengthen the core of our business guided by our mission and clear strategic agenda. Finally, as a cooperative bank, we will continue to offer our customers initiatives and services that contribute to global transitions.
For more information on the interim results 2020 please read the press release.