Saturday, March 2

The big bank records the highest profit since the rescue in the record year of layoffs and office closures

The year with the highest number of layoffs and office closures agreed in the ERE of the bank has ended with the highest profit recorded by the six large banks in the country since, at least, the financial rescue of a decade ago. These half a dozen entities (Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Sabadell, Unicaja and Bankinter) have closed with a joint profit of 20,979 million euros, compared to the losses they added in 2020, mainly due to the results of the group chaired by Ana Botín.

In these income statements there are a lot of extraordinary elements, events that cause profits to increase exceptionally but that will disappear for the next accounts. This is mainly the case of CaixaBank, Unicaja and Bankinter. These three banks have boosted their results mainly due to the impact of the mergers, in the case of the first two, and due to the IPO of its insurance subsidiary, in the case of the third. These data will be normalized in 2022.

The greatest benefit is reaped by Santander. The entity closed the year 2021 with 8,124 million euros in profits, compared to the 9,700 million losses it reaped in 2020 due to the pandemic and various accounting adjustments in its subsidiaries. The bank chaired by Ana Botín has claimed this week that the result of its last quarter is the best in the last 12 years, accounting for the record levels at which the group’s numbers move.

The second largest benefit is that reaped by CaixaBank, with 5,226 million euros, 278% more than a year earlier. Although, it is a case with the extraordinary accounting impact that the merger with Bankia has had. In fact, the company does not have that amount when it comes to distributing a dividend, but the base on which it will be measured will be 2,359 million euros. Even with these figures, the result is almost double that of both banks separately in 2020. The State, a 16% shareholder of the bank, will receive 190 million euros in the first major dividend since it has participated in CaixaBank.

It is followed by BBVA, which has presented its accounts this Thursday. The bank chaired by Carlos Torres has obtained a profit of 4,653 million euros, 250% more. Subtracting some extraordinary accounting effects, the bank has claimed in its accounts that its recurring profit (about 5,000 million) is the highest in 10 years and attributes it to the increase in income and to having had to reserve fewer provisions than in the previous year before the best situation in the economy.

Bankinter adds another 1,333 million euros to the aggregate profit account of the six banks listed on the Stock Exchange. It is 320% more than a year before, although he attributes it to the impact of having taken his subsidiary Línea Directa on the stock market. Unicaja, which has absorbed Liberbank this year, closes the year with more than 1,100 million euros in profit compared to the 93 that the two entities added separately in 2021. Without the impact of the merger, the result would have been 137 million of euros. Sabadell obtained 530 million euros, although it reaped the greatest advance of the country’s large banks, having earned just 2 million in 2020 due to strong provisions during the pandemic.

The buoyant profit data contrasts with the situation that the banking sector has experienced during the past year and that will continue during the first months of this year. Almost all entities, except Bankinter, presented ERE in their workforce, which has caused the sum of 19,000 layoffs, the highest figure reached in a year in Spanish banking. In addition, thousands of bank branches have been closed in these cutback processes, sometimes justified as derived from mergers and on other occasions as a digitization process.