Spanish banking group Santander has posted a net profit of €1.6bn for the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to €25m for the same quarter of 2015 when profit was hit by payment protection insurance provision in the UK.

For the quarter ended 31 December 2016, net interest income increased 2.6% to €8.09bn from €7.88bn a year ago.

Net fee income was up by 7.7% to €2.63bn from €2.45bn in the prior year. Net operating income was €5.66bn, a 3.4% rise from €5.47bn in the previous year.

Banco Santander group executive chairman, Ana Botín said: "In 2016 Santander has achieved strong results, meeting all our strategic and business objectives.

"We have earned the loyalty of a further 1.4 million customers, serving 125 million people and businesses across Europe and the Americas and increasing lending by 2%.”