Santander profits rise on Latin American revenue

2 February 2007

Banco Santander Central Hispano has reported a 13 per cent increase in fourth quarter net profit for the end of 2006, boosted by its Latin American sales.

Spain's largest bank revealed in a financial statement that full-year profit for 2006 soared by 22 per cent, from €6.22 billion ($8.1 billion) in 2005 to a record €7.6 billion last year.

The company witnessed strong sales and lending in its core divisions during the last three months of the year, as fourth quarter net lending rose to €2.65 billion, up from €2.24 billion for the same period of 2005.

Banco Santander raised €2.49 billion from the sale of stakes in Inmobiliaria Urbis, Santander Chile, broadcaster Antena 3 de Television and Italy's Sanpaolo IMI, up from €1.1 billion in capital gains from asset sales during the fourth quarter of 2005.

A total of around $17 billion has been spent on acquisitions in Latin America by Banco Santander Central Hispano since 1996 and the company saw its net income in the region climb by 29 per cent during 2006 to €2.29 billion.

Full year dividends increased by 25 per cent to €0.5206 euros per share and Banco Santander Central Hispano predicts that its British Abbey unit will post net profit of €1.2 billion during 2007.

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