World Bulletin / News Desk
A strong performance in Brazil helped Santander offset weakness in Brexit-hit Britain and boost its profits by 7.0 percent last year, the Spanish banking giant said Tuesday.
"Throughout the year we have seen strong growth in Latin America, with our businesses in Brazil and Mexico performing exceptionally well," Santander's chief executive Ana Botin said in a statement.
Greater customer activity in Brazil and a recovery in the exchange rate of the Brazilian real helped the bank as the Latin American country bounces back from a sharp economic downturn.
Profit there jumped 42 percent to 2.54 billion euros. Brazil was the leading contributor to earnings last year at 26 percent followed by Britain at 16 percent.
Brazil's economy is projected to grow two percent this year, according to an annual report by the United Nations-backed Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean released last month.
That is far better than the 0.9 percent growth expected for 2017, or the preceding two years when Brazil's economy was mired in its worst-ever recession.
Santander's profits in Britain, which until recently was its main market, fell by 9.0 percent last year to 1.5 billion euros as the drop in the value of the pound after Britain's vote to leave the European Union took its toll.
In the United States, Santander said its profit fell by 8.0 percent to 332 million euros.
The bank's results in 2017 were marked by the purchase in June of failing Spanish rival Banco Popular for the symbolic sum of one euro after the intervention of European regulators.
In the fourth quarter net profit fell by 4.0 percent compared with the same period the previous year to 1.5 billion euros, largely due to exceptional items.
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