Santander wants to slash 3,700 jobs in Spain: union

Madrid (AFP) –


Spanish banking giant Santander wants to slash around 3,700 jobs in Spain, or about 10 percent of its workforce in the country, a union representative said Tuesday.

The eurozone's largest bank by market value, which employs around 32,000 people in Spain, also wants to close 1,150 branches, about one in four, a representative the UGT union who is in charge of the banking sector told AFP.

He said the goal is to "eliminate duplications" following the integration of troubled Spanish bank Banco Popular, which Santander bought in June 2017 for the symbolic price of one euro to help avert its looming collapse.

The planned cuts are Santander's first proposal made to unions during a meeting held on Tuesday.

Further meetings between the two sides are expected in the coming weeks and the final figure for job and branch cuts will be known at the end of June, the UGT representative said.

Contacted by AFP, Santander declined to comment.

Santander already slashed 1,100 jobs in Spain at the end of 2017 as part of a restructuring following its purchase of Banco Popular, mainly through early retirement.

Like its peers worldwide, Santander is dealing with a shift to online and mobile-based banking as well as a threat of nascent "fintech" rivals who use computer and Internet technology to develop innovative financial services and applications.

Other European banks, including in France and Britain, have also closed branches or grouping smaller offices into bigger ones than can offer a range of services.

In April, Santander said it was aiming for annual cost savings of 1.2 billion euros ($1.35 billion) in the coming years, and planned to spend 20 billion euros in technology over the next four years.

Santander in January announced it would close one in five of its branches in Britain, which is expected to lead to 1,270 job losses in the country, as it focuses more on online banking.

The bank posted a first quarter net profit of 1.84 billion euros, a 10 percent drop over the same period last year, due to a "difficult operating environment" in Europe.

It employed around 202,000 people around the world, and some 13,300 branches, around the world at the end of March.