The Malaga entity doubles its profitability index to 5.2 per cent. / ÑITO SALAS

Unicaja's profits soar 62 per cent in the first half of the year

The Malaga-based bank earned 165 million euros, boosted by improved margins in its financial activity, lending business, and income from fees and commissions

JAVIER LÓPEZ

Unicaja bank presented its accounts for the first half of the year on Wednesday, 27 July, and the figures show the strength of the Malaga-based financial institution. The bank recorded a net profit of 165 million euros in the first half of 2022. This represents a year-on-year increase of 62 per cent and is based on three aspects: the improvement in the margins of the bank´s financial activity, increased lending business and increased income from fees and commissions.

The improvement in Unicaja's financial activity, i.e. the difference between revenues and costs, represents a rise of 13.6 per cent compared to the the first half of 2021.

At the same time, fee income grew by a similar percentage (12.8 per cent), while administrative expenses fell by nine per cent. The latter was largely due to the restructuring undertaken as a result of the controversial merger with Liberbank, which took place almost a year ago.

As a result, Unicaja's consolidated profit before tax was 225.2 million euros, and net profit was 165 million euros. This represents year-on-year increases of 70 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively. These figures also translate into an increase in profitability ratios of 5.2 per cent, more than double the percentage recorded at the end of last year (2.3 per cent).

"Despite the unfavourable economic-financial context for savings, marked by high uncertainty and inflation levels, and the high volatility in the financial markets, so far this year net subscriptions in investment funds amounted to 379 million, reaching assets of 11,759 million, representing a year-on-year growth of 2.7 per cent," Unicaja said.

The bank has come in for heavy criticism from savers after it closed 11 branches in Malaga in March leaving many villagers without a local bank. A protest was held outside the head office in Malaga city.

The long-time president of Fundación Unicaja, Braulio Medel, stepped down last month after pressure. Fundación Unicaja is a charitable foundation and the largest shareholder in Unicaja bank, the fifth largest in Spain. The foundation was born out of the old publicly owned local savings bank and is based in Malaga province.

Medel had been heavily criticised recently for his iron grip on the foundation, and the government had asked for an independent report on his leadership over "serious doubts" over his "business and professional honour".

One of the criticisms levied at Medel is alleged favouritism of the old Liberbank element of the new bank and undermining its Malaga roots.