The Eurozone’s largest bank showed it can thrive in the region’s crisis.
Profit before tax was up 39 per cent in the three months to March 2015, compared to the same three months a year ago. It came in at €2.9bn (£2.1bn), up from €2.1bn in quarter one 2014.
Banco Santander’s net income grew 32 per cent year on year during the three months to March 31, hitting €1.72bn, beating expectations of a €1.69bn rise. Net interest income also rose: it was up 15 per cent from a year ago to around €8bn.
The latter measure is important for a retail-focused bank like Santander, as it represents the profits made from core lending. In the UK, net earnings rose 14 per cent.
The bank, which has been headed by Ana Botin after she took over from her father Emilio Botin six months ago, also improved its loan book: non-performing loans now make up 4.6 per cent of total loans at the bank, down from 5.5 per cent at the end of March 2014.
Profits rose in nine of the 10 countries in which the bank has operations, with the strongest growth in Spain and Brazil.
Ana Botin has made her mark on the bank since taking over. The 55-year-old worked at JP Morgan for eight years, before joining the board at Grupo Santander in 1989. She was chief executive from 2010 until 2014, when she became chairman.