Strength of Abbey helps Santander to a half-year profit

SPANISH bank Santander is reaping the benefits from its acquisitions, as the first half attributable profit at its UK operations rose nearly 63 per cent to &pound;790m, from &pound;485m last year.<br /><br />Santander-owned Abbey, including recent purchases Alliance &amp; Leicester and the savings book of Bradford &amp; Bingley, saw a 20 per cent rise in revenues over the six months to 30 June and said it had kept costs flat.<br /><br />The solid performance in the UK helped the group to a first-half pre-tax profit of &euro;5.9bn, down 5.3 per cent on last year&rsquo;s &euro;6.2bn.<br /><br />A&amp;L and B&amp;B, which will be combined under the name Santander UK in 2010, contributed profits of &pound;137m and &pound;7m respectively.<br /><br />Abbey has grabbed market share as rivals have withdrawn and is now the UK&rsquo;s second largest mortgage lender with a share of around 16 per cent.<br /><br />Ant&oacute;nio Horta-Os&oacute;rio, Abbey&rsquo;s charismatic chief executive, said the &pound;612m acquisition of B&amp;B&rsquo;s &pound;21bn deposit book and 197 branches had dramatically improved the unit&rsquo;s funding position.<br /><br />Santander also expects to achieve &pound;180m in cost saving synergies from the integration of Abbey, A&amp;L and B&amp;B.