Santander Banking giant gets boost from Brazil

Spain's largest bank said that net profit rose by 14.3 percent to 1.87 billion euros ($2.0 billion) in the period from January to March.

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(Sky News)
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Spanish banking giant Santander said Wednesday that its profits jumped in the first quarter, as a strong performance in Brazil offset weakness in Britain caused by the slump in the pound.

Spain's largest bank said that net profit rose by 14.3 percent to 1.87 billion euros ($2.0 billion) in the period from January to March.

That was much higher than the average of 1.75 billion euros expected by analysts surveyed by Factset.

The lender said in a statement that its net profit in Brazil jumped by 77 percent to 634 million euros on the back of the rise in the value of the real and improved business in the region.

Brazil, which accounts for just over a quarter of Santander's total earnings, is this year expected to emerge from a recession that has lasted more than two years.

In Britain, where the bank generates around one-fifth of its earnings, net profit fell 8.0 percent to 416 million euros as a result of the fall in the pound since the country voted to leave the European Union.

Profit from its banking activity in Spain, its third largest market, rose 17.9 percent, buoyed by higher fees and lower loan-loss provisions.

Santander chief Ana Botin said that "while the environment continues to be challenging for the banking sector," the outlook for the bank was positive.

"The economies of all our core markets are expected to grow this year," she said.

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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