Santander notches up billion euro profit

The boss of Spanish banking giant Santander was the bearer of good tidings on Thursday when he announced the institution had experienced a leap in third-quarter profits of €1.055 billion ($1.46 billion).

Santander notches up billion euro profit
Santander chairman Emilio Botin said the bank was prepared for a new era of profitability. Photo: Pierre-Phillipe Marcou/AFP

After recent comments that this was a "fantastic" period for the Spanish economy,  Santander chairman Emilio Botin Santander was able to offer up yet more upbeat news on Thursday.

His banks's net profit rose to €1.055 billion ($1.46 billion) in the third quarter, nearly nine times the €122 million profit reported a year earlier.

At this time last year, it had to set aside €1.14 billion in provisions against doubtful property-related assets in Spain.

Santander's net banking income fell 15.5 percent to €6.285 billion over the same period.

"After several years of high levels of write-offs and reinforcement of capital, Banco Santander is prepared for a new period of increased profitability," Santander chairman Emilio Botin said in a statement.

Over the first nine months of 2013, Santander posted a net profit increase of 77 percent from the same period last year to €19.66 billion . Net banking income dropped 13.9 percent to €19.66 billion.

Faced with fragile economies in Spain and the rest of Europe, Santander has focused on emerging markets, especially Latin America, from which it now sources 55 percent of its profits.

Santander said it had boosted the ratio of rock solid core capital on its books to 11.56 of the total capital, up from 10.38 percent a year earlier.

But the ratio of bad loans at risk of not being repaid — most of them related to the collapsed property market — rose to 5.43 percent of all credit from 4.34 percent a year earlier.

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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.