Banco Santander achieved an attributable profit of €8,124 million in 2021, which compares to an attributable loss of €8,771 billion in 2020, when the bank made a non-cash adjustment to the valuation of goodwill and deferred tax assets (DTAs). The 2021 attributable profit is 25% higher in current euros than in 2019, before covid. Excluding net charges of €530 million for restructuring costs already announced in Q1 2021, underlying profit for 2021 was €8,654 million, up 78% versus the previous year. In the fourth quarter alone, the bank achieved an attributable and underlying profit of €2,275 million, up 5% versus the previous quarter and the highest underlying profit in a single quarter in the last 12 years.
The bank’s strong performance was driven by an activity rebound, with loans and deposits growing 4% and 6% respectively, which led to a solid growth in net interest income and net fee income. There was also an improvement in credit quality, which enabled a normalisation of the level of loan-loss provisions, down 37%. That was partly due to a release of overlay provisions due to the pandemic of c.€750 million, reflecting a general improvement in the economies in which Santander operates and the positive performance of portfolios.