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April 28, 2021, 1:19 a.m. EDT

Lower provisions drive Santander profit beat

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By Pietro Lombardi

Banco Santander SA's provisions fell sharply in the first quarter, helping net profit rise more than expected despite a restructuring charge of more than half-a-billion euros.

The Spanish bank on Wednesday posted quarterly net profit of 1.61 billion euros ($1.95 billion). That compares with EUR331 million a year earlier, when results were hit by provisions to cover potential loan losses and charges related to the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts had expected profit of EUR1.17 billion, according to a consensus estimate provided by FactSet.

Provisions slid 49% to EUR1.99 billion in the quarter. The bank posted a restructuring charge of EUR530 million for costs expected in the whole year.

Revenue fell to EUR11.39 billion from EUR11.81 billion.

"We saw good performance across all our regions, with particularly strong growth in the U.S., the U.K. and Santander Corporate and Investment Banking," Executive Chairman Ana Botin said. "We are confident we will achieve our 2021 goals of improving our efficiency ratio, reducing cost of credit and increasing our profitability."

Write to Pietro Lombardi at pietro.lombardi@wsj.com; @pietrolombard10

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