UK gives Santander a boost

The UK operations of Spanish banking giant Santander saw full-year profits leap 30 per cent in 2009 as the group grew its share of the mortgage market and signed up more than expected new customers to its bank accounts.

Pre-tax profits hit £1.54bn for the year to 31 December with new acquisitions Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester helping to boost UK deposits by eight per cent. The banking behemoth, which is the second largest bank in Europe by market value, continued to draw in savers with 1.1m new bank accounts opened during the year – slightly above targets. Existing mortgage customers were rewarded with its fee-free Zero account which does not charge for using overdraft facilities and pays interest of up to six per cent if certain conditions are met.

It now holds a 10 per cent share of the UK retail banking market. Santander also grew its share of the gross mortgage market to more than 18 per cent – up from around 14 per cent the previous year. Net home lending stood at £7.6bn during the year.

It said its mortgage book is putting in a better than expected performance with total arrears rate in the fourth quarter of 1.71 per cent, up from 1.65 per cent in the third quarter but down on the 2.4 per cent reported for the same period by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Lending to businesses is up 16 per cent on the same point last year.

António Horta-Osório, head of Santander UK, said: “Our full year results demonstrate clearly our business model and strategy are delivering superior results, allowing us to increase profits and revenues, balanced against controlled costs.”



ANTONIO Horta-Osório first joined as a non-executive Director of Abbey in November 2004, becoming chief executive in August 2006.

In 2008, his responsibilities extended following Abbey’s purchase of the Bradford & Bingley savings business and the acquisition of Alliance & Leicester and in June 2009 he was appointed as a non-executive director to the Court of The Bank of England.

He is an executive vice president of Santander group and a member of its management committee; and also the chairman of Santander Totta in Portugal where he was CEO from 1999-2006. He was previously CEO of Banco Santander Brazil.

Horta-Osório started his career at CitiBank Portugal where he was head of Capital Markets. At the same time, he was an assistant professor at Universidade Católica Portuguesa.

He then worked for Goldman Sachs in New York and London, focusing on corporate finance activities in Portugal. In 1993, he joined Grupo Santander as CEO of Banco Santander de Negocios Portugal.

He is a graduate in Management and Business Administration at Universidade Católica Portuguesa, and has an MBA from INSEAD and an AMP from Harvard Business School.