Spain’s largest listed commercial banks reported their year-end results this week, giving some respite from the worries about a new round of restructuring at the country’s teetering savings banks (cajas).
Spain’s listed lenders are generally better capitalised and more profitable than the cajas, thanks in large part to their foreign franchises. Last year, Santander generated 25% of its net profit in booming Brazil, versus only 15% in sickly Spain. BBVA, meanwhile, derived 45% of its earnings from Spain and Portugal, with its Mexican business, home to 37% of group profits, not far behind.
Spain’s third-largest listed bank, Banco Popular, is a largely domestic lender, which is reflected in a higher non-performing loan ratio than Santander or BBVA. Still, Popular remains conservatively capitalised, with a core capital ratio of 9.4%, close to BBVA’s 9.6% and higher than Santander’s 8.8%.