When santander entered the uk in 2004 aided by the acquisition of previous building society abbey national, the move finished the groups change from a family-run regional mortgage lender into a multinational giant.

During the time europes biggest cross-border financial deal, the purchase marked the culmination of a string of acquisitions under its swashbuckling presidente emilio botn, whose family have actually controlled banco santander considering that the very early twentieth century.

These days, but the uk company is looking more and more like an albatross around its spanish proprietors neck.

The uk bank acted as a fruitful proving floor for mr botns child ana before she took over as group president in 2014 following the woman fathers demise. but after several years of falling earnings, santander british recently drove its moms and dad company to your very first loss in its 163-year record as the result of a 6bn goodwill writedown.that will leave a company appreciated at 8.4bn in 2017 really worth about 1bn in goodwill today.

The group blamed the influence of coronavirus on the worldwide financial outlook, alongside subsidiaries in poland plus the united states of america additionally experienced. but the level associated with uk writedown worth 85 % of their total price renewed questions throughout the finance companies commitment to forex trading.

I am certain they'd were resisting the writedown for some time, said previous santander united kingdom main economic officer stephen jones. [but] the optimism that underpinned that goodwill price must-have become unsustainable.

Retail banking is a really extremely regulated and competitive marketplace in britain additionally the returns are not at all attractive. this doesnt appear to be improving any time soon.

Santander professionals dismissed suggestions that teams method had been a mistake or that uk development had been poorly executed. they pointed out that santander uk, which is run by chief executive nathan bostock, features paid 8bn in dividends to its mother or father considering that the acquisition of abbey nationwide in 2004.

Santander main economic officer jose garcia cantera said: the share rates of united kingdom finance companies have actually dropped somewhat this year and since we bought the company...[but] in times during the uncertainty we do not believe its an excellent reflection of price. we believe our balance sheet is extremely strong and it has countless price.

Santanders capacity to turn round the fortunes of united kingdom company should be crucial to both ms botns history and also to its hopes of achievingambitious midterm objectives so it has actually caught to regardless of the coronavirus crisis. underlying team profits climbed significantly under ms botn before the pandemic hit, but she's struggled to convince general public markets. shares had been languishing really below their particular 2014 amounts even before the beginning of in 2010.

Ms botn has shrugged down criticisms about specific markets during the woman tenure, arguing that its diversified model it works in 10 core markets and an overall total of 20 nations provides stability. this defence is weakened because of the international nature of coronavirus pandemic.

Iacopo dalu, a finance specialist at $337bn asset supervisor janus henderson, with a little holding in santander, said: there isn't any variation advantage in a pandemic and when main financial institutions follow a beggar thy neighbour way of prices and currencies... they have to consider much more radical strategic choices.

Santander over and over exhausted on wednesday that goodwill writedowns had no affect its underlying business, however the changes had been a lot more than a technical bookkeeping tweak. even unexpectedly positive news on capital amounts usually an obsession among santander people and experts wasn't enough to distract from the writedowns. stocks inside bank fell 5 %.

The writedown claims they anticipate quite poor profits in the uk as time goes on, stated a senior manager at a competing british lender.

Santanders challenges in the uk aren't special, although reputation for its empire building made the existing environment particularly difficult. to abbey national it included two more former building societies in 2008 alliance & leicester plus the remains of bradford & bingley. the acquisitions provided it a substantial existence in home loan sector but left it overexposed to a current price war shopping.

Line chart of share cost () showing santander slides on company writedowns

These days three-quarters of santander uks balance sheet consists of mortgages. income have tumbled as regulatory modifications left larger competitors with vast amounts of extra capital to deploy in britain, driving intense competitors for brand new home loans.

Equivalent factors, however, imply santander uks balance sheet is extremely reduced risk. into the bank of englands latest anxiety tests, it had the best post-stress capital proportion. of five significant british lenders to report second-quarter outcomes, just barclays and santander recorded a profit, as expected standard prices on its mortgages remained low.

For a while were likely to be making less overall, but that doesnt suggest into the long term its ugly, mr cantera added.

At the same time santander has made a number of senior appointments to overhaul its european business. antnio simes, hsbcs former mind of private financial, will participate in september with a mission of taking its numerous european companies including banks in spain, portugal, poland plus the british closer together.

Great britain by itself is a stronger piece of business, but inaddition it adds scale and when you place this with the sleep of european countries, we could do numerous things, mr cantera stated.

Later on in 2010, ex-nationwide deputy main tony prestedge will join as deputy leader of santander british. he's viewed as a potential successor to mr bostock.

Column chart of profit after tax (bn) showing santander slumps on deteriorating economic outlook

Mr simes will attempt a performance drive involving provided technology and investment to help individual subsidiaries take on regional marketplace frontrunners like lloyds bank. but it also include substantial cost-cutting, particularly in great britain and spain, that'll trigger branch closures and work losings.

Regardless of the long-lasting optimism, however, also supporters of banking institutions method acknowledge that some challenges will stay out-of its control particularly a potential tough brexit.

Davide serra, president of london-based investment company and santander shareholder algebris, stated ms botn had done a good job of changing three subpar building societies into a good british retail bank.

But he added: if federal government is correct and brexit delivers a prosperous tradition, it will make cash. if federal government is incorrect and it also turns into an economic nightmare with coronavirus over the top, it'll endure...it is associated with the uks fate.