Banco Santander SA Executive Chairman Ana Botín said the bank's board will propose to pay a dividend of 23 cents per share from its 2018 profit, 4.5% higher than the 22 cents per share for 2017.
The 2018 dividend will comprise three cash payments of 6.5 cents per share apiece, and a fourth of 3.5 cents per share offering shareholders a choice of payment in cash or shares. Speaking during the bank's annual general meeting, Botín also said the board intends to propose that starting with the 2019 results, dividends be paid twice a year, in November and May, and that they be paid entirely in cash.
Meanwhile, CEO José Antonio Álvarez Álvarez said the bank is confident that its U.S. unit, Santander Holdings USA Inc., would see "significant" profit growth in the coming years. He said he is "optimistic" about the bank's evolution in the U.S. and that "there is still room for improvement in generating additional revenues in wholesale and corporate banking."
In late January, Spain's largest bank reported full-year 2017 attributable profit of €6.62 billion, up 6.7% from €6.20 billion a year earlier. However, its fourth-quarter profit for the year dropped 4% owing to goodwill impairment charges resulting from its investment in the U.S. unit.