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SANTANDER

Banking titan Santander reports 2013 profit leap

Spain's Santander bank, the largest in the eurozone by market value, reported Thursday a 90.5-percent leap in net profits for 2013, hailing a "turnaround" after enduring years of economic crisis.

Banking titan Santander reports 2013 profit leap
Photo: Pierre Phillipe Marcou/AFP

Financial troubles in Spain and other fragile eurozone economies had forced Santander to slash the estimated value of its assets in turbulent economies in past years, eroding its profits.

In 2013, however, net profit leapt to €4.37 billion ($6 billion), up 90.5 percent from the previous year.

Net banking income fell 13.3 percent to €25.935 billion over the same period.

"After several years of strengthening the balance sheet and capital, Banco Santander is embarking on a period of strong profit growth in the coming years," Santander chairman Emilio Botin said in a statement.

Santander said the 2013 results marked a "turnaround" after suffering declining profits in recent years.

Despite the international economic crisis, especially in the eurozone, Santander said its worldwide operations had allowed it to produce a profit in every quarter of the past five years.

In 2013, it said, 53 percent of group profit came from emerging markets.

Over the five years of crisis, the bank said it had set aside €65 billion in provisions and boosted the share of rock solid core capital by €18.4 billion, or 4.13 percentage points, to 11.7 percent of all capital.

In the final quarter of 2013 alone, Santander said net profit rose 0.4 percent from the figure a year earlier to €1.06 billion. Net banking income fell 0.1 percent to €6.28 billion over the same period.

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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.