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Banking

Spanish banks see their annual profits shrink

Spain's biggest banks have reported they're still being impacted by the aftermath of the real estate crisis that hit the country in 2008. Bad loans and state-imposed provisions keep eating into profits.

Spain's four biggest lenders all posted a steep drop in 2012 profits, or even incurred losses last year, annual corporate reports showed on Friday.

The southern European country's largest bank as measured by total assets under management, CaixaBank, said its 2012 net earnings plunged by 78.2 percent to 230 million euros ($312 million).

The lender noted the steep drop in profit was a result of much greater provisions the bank had to put aside to cover potential real-estate losses. Last year, the Spanish government ordered lenders to boost the amount set aside to cover losses from property-related loans going bad.

Protracted recovery process

Spain's second-biggest bank, BBVA, reported a 44.2-percent fall in 2012 profit, also owing to provisions taken against potential losses. The lender reported a bad-loan ratio of 5.1 percent, below the average of six percent among banks nationwide.

Santander reported a more than 50-percent decline in earnings, while Banco Popular ended 2012 in negative territory, posting a loss of 2.5 billion euros.

The banks' reckless lending policies were exposed when Spain's real-estate market crashed some five years ago, putting more than a million people out of work. Regional governments' income was reduced sharply as a result of the crisis.

hg/pfd (dpa, AFP)