Santander profits soar to pre-pandemic levels
Spanish banking giant Santander bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-Covid earnings, the group said Wednesday.
Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of 8.1 billion euros ($9.1 billion) in 2021, close to a 12-year high.
It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of 8.7 billion euros after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK.
It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of 6.5 billion euros.
Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of 7.9 billion euros.
"Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 percent higher than pre-covid levels in 2019," said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.
Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching 33.4 billion euros, compared to 31.9 billion in 2020.
This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customers numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide.
"We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone," said Botin.
Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020.
In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even "quadrupled" over the same period to 1.6 billion euros.
Last year's net loss was the first in Banco Santander's history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of Covid.
The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of 1.7 billion euros for its 2021 results.
"In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results," it said.