Banco Santander posts profit rise despite poor UK performance

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Spain’s banking giant Banco Santander on Tuesday posted a 10 percent rise in its first quarter net profit, with good results in the country offsetting a poor performance in the United Kingdom.

The eurozone’s largest bank by market capitalisation said its profit increased to 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) from January to March this year.

Spain, which has overtaken Britain to become the bank’s second-largest market, contributed to this rise with a 26 percent increase in profits thanks to the integration of smaller, struggling rival Banco Popular, which it acquired in June 2017.

“Costs increased following the incorporation of Popular, however, this was offset by positive trends in commercial revenues and an improvement in the cost of credit,” Santander said in a statement.

But profits in its largest market — Brazil — rose more slowly by seven percent as negative exchange rates took their toll.

The United Kingdom, which until 2016 was Santander’s biggest market, saw its net profit drop 23 percent “as a highly competitive environment placed pressure on revenues, and costs increased” as did “loan loss provisions” — expenses set aside for potential situations like customer defaults.

Now, the United Kingdom is only Santander’s third biggest market.