Brexit bashes Spanish banking giant’s British earnings

Spanish banking giant Santander said Wednesday its net profit rose 4.0 percent in 2016 to €6.2 billion euros ($6.7 billion), but Brexit had knocked earnings in Britain by nearly 15 percent.

Brexit bashes Spanish banking giant's British earnings
Santander Bank's president Ana Patricia Botin looks on during a press conference announcing earnings in January 2016. Photo: AFP

The result exceeded the €6.0 billion euros expected by analysts surveyed by financial data provider Factset.

The bank attributed the gain to strong growth in fee income, which was “partially offset by the weakening of certain currencies against the euro”.

Britain had been Santander's top market for profits, but the 14.7-percent drop in profit to €1.7 billion knocked it into second place behind Brazil.

It blamed the drop on the “weakening of the pound against the euro following the outcome of the referendum on EU membership” as well as an increase in taxes.

That meant Britain accounted for 20 percent of the bank's pre-tax profit, behind recession-wracked Brazil at 21 percent.

Santander's shares jumped 4.4 percent in morning trading while Madrid's main index was up 1.65 percent.

Santander is neck and neck with France's BNP Paribas for the position as the eurozone's biggest bank by capitalisation.

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Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.


Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account