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Santander profits 'up 22%'

Profits at Spanish banking giant Santander increased by 22 per cent for the first quarter of 2008, new data has revealed.

The nation's largest bank recorded $3.4 billion of net income - up by $1.6 billion from a year before.

Last year, a consortium including Santander completed the buyout of Dutch bank ABN Amro - a deal which, the firm claims, contributed $236 million towards its profits.

However, the recent experiences of another consortium member, RBS, have been very different.

The Scottish bank has declared over $16 billion of credit crunch-related write-downs over the past year - which, it is expected, will entirely wipe out profits in quarters to come.

RBS also announced a $24 billion rights issue last week in a bid to shore up its balance sheet.

Santander's announcement beat a recent poll of analysts from news agency Reuters - who predicted a net profit of around $3 billion for the quarter.