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The Santander Group

The history of Banco Santander S.A. ('Santander') stretches back over 150 years. Today, the Santander Group has over 13,500 branches in more than 40 countries - more than any other international bank - with our focus being in continental Europe, the UK, USA and South America. We have over 92 million customers worldwide.


Key milestones in Santander?s history

  • 1857 - Queen Isabel II of Spain signed a royal decree authorising the incorporation of the founding of Santander
  • 1947 ? the first regional office opened in the Americas, in Havana (Cuba), followed by others in Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, and the UK (London)
  • 1957- on its hundredth anniversary, Banco de Santander became the seventh-ranked finance house in Spain
  • 1960 ? with the purchase of the Banco del Hogar Argentino, Santander started its first subsidiary in Latin America
  • Late 1980s - Santander bolstered its presence in Europe by acquiring CC-Bank in Germany and acquired a stake in Banco de Comercio e Industria in Portugal
  • 1994 - the acquisition of Banco Español de Crédito (Banesto) makes Santander the leading player in the Spanish market
  • 2000 - the Group was joined by Banespa in Brazil, Grupo Serfín in Mexico and Banco Santiago in Chile, consolidating our position as the leading financial franchise in Latin America
  • 2004 - the Group acquires Abbey, the sixth largest bank in the United Kingdom
  • 2005 - Santander reaches agreement to take a 19.8% stake in Sovereign Bancorp, the 18th biggest bank in the USA
  • 2008 ? by acquiring Alliance & Leicester and the retail deposits business of Bradford & Bingley in the UK, Santander expanded its high street network to 1,300 branches and became the third largest bank in the UK by deposits


You can find more detailed information about the key milestones in the history of the Santander Group here.

Safe and secure

Santander is one of the safest and most secure banks in the world and our success comes from having firm banking principles:

  • A strong retail and commercial banking focus with 70% of our revenues coming from retail and commercial, not investment banking activities
  • A prudent approach to lending, maintaining sensible capital ratios and spreading risk across geographical areas
  • We focus on areas we understand well, allowing us to grow as a safe and reliable business which makes us stable and allows us to build a secure future for all our customers
  • We enjoy a AA rating from Standard & Poors? and Fitch*, making us one of the highest rated banks in the world

*Source: Bloomberg 04.01.2011


We are one of the world?s strongest and best capitalised global banking networks and one of the top banks in the world by profits

  • The Santander Group is the fourth largest bank in the world by profits and eighth by stock market capitalisation
  • We are the one of the largest banks in the world by stock market value and the largest in the Eurozone
  • In 2009, net ordinary profits were over ?8.9 billion, 1% more than the previous year, and distributed more than ?4.9 billion in dividends to shareholders
  • In 2010, Euromoney magazine awarded Santander the title of ?Best Bank in the UK?, whilst The Banker magazine voted us ?Global Bank of the Year? and ?Best Bank in the UK? in 2009
  • With over 13,500 branches we have the greatest number of branches of any international bank

More information about the financial performance of the Santander Group can be found here.