Spanish bank Santander, the biggest in the eurozone by market value, said its net profit plunged in 2012 as it wrote off nearly 19 billion euros ($26 billion) on bad loans and property assets in Spain.The charges slashed net profit last year by nearly 60 per cent but left Santander’s balance sheet looking more secure.
The group said it made 12.7 billion euros in provisions for non-performing loans in Spain and another 6.1 billion euros for Spanish real estate exposure — 18.8 billion euros in total.
A property market collapse in 2008 left Spain’s banks awash with bad loans and destroyed millions of jobs.
The banking sector as a whole is expected to book more than 80 billion euros in new provisions on their 2012 accounts under a Spanish government drive to clean up their books.
The provisions in 2012 left Santander with 73 per cent of its bad loans in Spain covered, up from 61 per cent previously. They also allowed the bank to meet new Spanish legislation requiring better coverage of real estate exposure.
The bank said that net profit dropped 59 per cent from the level the previous year to 2.2 billion euros, after declining by 35 per cent in 2011.
Stripping out the huge charges in Spain, however, Santander said its would have boosted net profit by 2.0 per cent to 23.6 billion euros.
“Profits reached a turning point in 2012,” chairman Emilio Botin said in a statement.
“In 2013, with the exceptional write-offs behind us, we should see a marked increase in earnings based on the group’s recurrent revenues and cost control,” he said.
Net interest income in 2012 rose 3.6 per cent to 30.2 billion euros while gross income climbed 2.2 per cent to 43.7 billion euros.
Spain last year won agreement for a rescue loan of up to 100 billion euros from the eurozone to finance a banking sector clean-up.
Four Spanish banks and a so-called bad bank that has taken over many risky loans have received 39.5 billion euros so far from the European Union credit.
Santander and another bank BBVA are among the few that have not had to ask for outside aid.
Santander said its doubtful loans rose to 4.54 per cent of total loans in 2012 from 3.89 per cent a year earlier.
In Spain, the bad loan ratio was higher — at 6.74 per cent, down from 5.49 per cent a year earlier — but well below the industry average, the bank stressed.
Copyright (2013) AFP. All rights reserved.