Santander's Mexico unit reports dip in Q4 profit

MEXICO CITY Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:25am EST

MEXICO CITY Feb 18 (Reuters) - The Mexican unit of Spanish lender Santander posted a net profit of 3.31 billion pesos ($257.17 million) during the fourth quarter, a 57 percent decline compared with the same period a year earlier, the bank said on Monday.

Santander Mexico, which listed 25 percent of its shares in a record issue for the Mexican stock exchange in September, said the annual comparison was skewed because it had booked more than 4 billion pesos from the sale of an insurance business in 2011.

The results were also hit by provisions stemming from project finance, a fine linked to its mortgage portfolio and other various costs, said Santander Mexico, whose shares are up by nearly a quarter since the 2.8 billion euro ($3.74 billion) listing.

As of the end of 2012, Santander Mexico's loan book was worth 350.68 billion pesos, an increase of 11.8 percent from the same time a year earlier, the bank added.

Marcos Martinez, chief executive officer of Santander Mexico, said in a statement that the bank's performance had been "solid" during the final three months of 2012.

"We expect this positive trend...to continue during 2013 and beyond," Martinez said, noting that the bank was optimistic about the political and economic outlook in Mexico.

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