The retail banking unit of Dutch lender ABN AMRO has posted an underlying profit of €245 for the fourth quarter of 2016, a rise of 8% compared to €227m for the same quarter of 2015.

The bank said that the rise in profit was mainly driven by higher operating income and lower expenses, partly offset by slightly higher loan impairments.

The division's operating income increased 1% year-on-year to €953m, while net interest income rose 2% to €819m from €805m in the prior year. The unit’s Operating expenses were €600m, down 3% from €616m in the previous year.

Overall, the banking group posted an underlying profit of €333m for the fourth quarter of 2016, a surge of 23% compared to €272m for the same period of 2015.

ABN AMRO Group CEO Kees van Dijkhuizen said: “The fourth-quarter results are solid. The underlying net profit was EUR 333 million for the fourth quarter and EUR 2,076 million for the full year, an increase of 8% compared with 2015.

“This past quarter we achieved loan growth in all of our major loan books: we were the number one provider of new mortgages in the Netherlands for the second consecutive year, the SME loan portfolio in the Netherlands grew modestly again after years of decline, and we onboarded new corporate clients internationally.

“As the cost/income ratio is still too high, we announced a restructuring plan in the second half of 2016. The ROE was 11.8% and the capital position strengthened further. We have increased the proposed dividend for full-year 2016 to EUR 0.84 per share. This is a payout ratio of 45% of the reported net profit.”