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SANTANDER

‘The whole world wants to invest in Spain’

The chairman of Spain's Santander bank has told a New York press conference that the Spanish economy is going through a "fantastic" period in time as trust in the country "had grown unimaginably".

'The whole world wants to invest in Spain'
"You wouldn't believe how things have changed in the last six months," argued Botín. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

Emilio Botín, recently voted Spain’s most influential businessman, had nothing but praise for the current state of the Spanish economy in a press conference held in New York on Thursday.

"Everyone is interested in investing in Spain," Botín rejoiced.

"We're getting money for the stock exchange, for debt, for investment.

"You wouldn't believe how things have changed in the last six months."

Botín gave the example of a Chinese client he had convinced to invest in Spanish public debt who later thanked him and told him he was doubling his initial investment.

"It's a fantastic period in time for Spain's economy," Botín argued while praising the Spanish government's labour and financial reforms.

Although he acknowledged there was still "a lot to be done" with regard to the country’s high unemployment rate, the Santander boss said Spain’s banking sector "is better than ever".

The 79-year-old banker announced that Spanish banks were eager to lend money but added that demand is essential, as foreign entities want "good clients and not insolvent ones like the ones lending a few years back".

Botín was in New York to launch the rebranding of the US's Sovereign Bank to Santander.

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BANKING

Spain’s Santander to shut UK branches as online banking surges

Santander is to shut almost one fifth of its British branches following a surge in online banking, the Spanish group said on Wednesday.

Spain's Santander to shut UK branches as online banking surges
Photo: AFP

Santander said it would close 140 branches, affecting 1,270 staff, of which about one third would be offered alternative roles in the company.

It meanwhile plans to retain 614 branches across the UK.

“The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels,” said Susan Allen, head of retail and business banking at Santander.

“As a result, we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less visited branches, and those where we have other branches in close proximity,” she added in Wednesday's statement.

Santander said that the number of transactions carried out via Santander branches had dropped by almost one quarter in the last three years.

Transactions via digital channels had doubled over the same period.

“We continue to believe that branches have a vital role to play and we will be refurbishing 100 of our branches over the next two years,” Allen added.