Santander forecasts steady 2010 net profit

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Santander, the biggest Spanish bank, will report 2010 net profit similar to last year's figure, Santander chairman Emilio Botin said on Friday.

"We expect to achieve results this year which are around those obtained in 2009 and we will maintain our shareholder dividend of 60 cents," he told a shareholders meeting.

"The good results of the group, the strength of our balance sheet and our excellent outlook fully justify maintaining our traditional dividend policy."

Santander posted a 2009 net profit of 8.94 billion euros (10.79 billion dollars), a 0.7-percent increase over the previous year.

The bank's first-quarter net profit rose 5.7 percent from a year earlier to 2.22 billion euros.

Santander's international diversification, especially to Latin America, and its focus on retail banking has allowed it to escape relatively unscathed from the collapse of the property sector in its domestic market Spain at the end of 2008 which plunged the country into recession.

© 2010 AFP

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