By Alessandra Galloni
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Banco Santander Executive Chair Ana Botin plans to deepen the lender’s corporate banking presence in the U.S. in renewable finance, auto lending and wealth as part of a broader strategy to expand in the world’s biggest economy.
“Our strategy is very focused on playing to our strengths,” she said in an interview at the Reuters NEXT conference in New York. “We will do better than our peers in a normalized interest-rate environment.”
Last month, Santander beat expectations, reporting a 20% rise in quarterly net profits thanks to strong performance in its home market as rising interest rates boosted income. It is betting on international expansion for the longer term.
Spain’s biggest bank is trying to double its business in U.S. investment banking, despite recent results being hit by loan losses, higher funding costs and expenses from efforts to scale up.
Net profit in the U.S. fell 50% in the third quarter, the bank reported last month, while net interest income, the difference between earnings on loans minus deposit costs, fell 15%.
Provisions rose 49% in the quarter against the same period a year ago.
As part of efforts to grow the unit, the Spanish bank is hiring staff from the stricken Credit Suisse. Reuters reported in July that Santander was planning to hire around 150 bankers primarily in the U.S.
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
Botin also called for a level playing field between banks and big tech companies such as Apple Inc , which are competing more in areas such as payments.
“All we are saying is, in terms of taxes, in terms of transparency, let’s have the same,” Botin said.
“I’d love to compete with Apple as long as we are competing on same terms,” she said.
Santander is investing in its payments business PagoNxt as one of five key business areas, competing with the likes of Apple Pay.
The payments business has delivered reliable income for banks in recent years given high transaction volumes, but investors have grown more cautious about the sector, with stretched valuations under pressure.
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(Reporting by Alessandra Galloni; Writing by Lananh Nguyen, Saeed Azhar, Lawrence White; Editing by Mark Porter and Lisa Shumaker)
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