Unicaja Banco obtained a consolidated net profit of 260 million euros during 2022. The figure practically doubles (+88.9%) the 137 million euros it earned in 2021 and triples the 78 million of 2020. The result is supported by the growth of all margins, the growth of the profitability of credit as a result of the rise in interest rates, the increase in net income from commissions and the reduction of administration expenses after the merger with the Asturian Liberbank, according to The entity communicated this Tuesday to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV).
The Malaga-based company has relied on a financial context that is blowing in its favor and an improvement in the company’s internal situation. In the first case, the increases in the interest rates of the European Central Bank (ECB) have made it possible to widen the margins, as has happened with the rest of the large entities that have already presented their results. In fact, the interest margin grew 2.9% in the year compared to the end of 2021, although if you look only at the last quarter, the progress has been much greater: 11.5% more driven by the revisions of loans at the new price of money. Despite this, the markets have reacted with pronounced declines: the price falls more than 8% one hour after the opening of the Ibex.
On the other hand, the entity seems to have stability again after the problems generated since the merger with Liberbank, which brought about the first major strike by Unicaja workers. The entity has already closed the 395 offices that it agreed with the unions and has formalized the departure of 80% of the 1,513 employees agreed in the ERE. Another departure, that of Braulio Medel from the Unicaja Foundation, the bank’s main shareholder now chaired by José Manuel Domínguez, has also helped to calm the troubled waters after the storm.
Of course, not everything is closed yet and the governance calendar saves relevant milestones for the next quarters, for example the reassessment of Manuel Menéndez, CEO of Unicaja. This examination will be carried out at the moment in which the president, Manuel Azuaga, must cede his executive functions, as agreed with the ECB at the time of the merger. These fringes still to be specified explain, in part, why Unicaja is the only Ibex bank that does not hold a press conference on its annual results.
Back to the numbers for the year, the increase in profit – before taxes it was 361 million euros, 100% more than in 2021 – has one of its main pillars in the growth of ordinary income. Thus, the interest margin increased by 2.9% to 1,058 million euros, while net commission income also increased by 7.3% to 525 million euros “driven by activities in investment funds and media payment, mainly ”, according to the bank in its statement.
The positive trend of all margins has been essential for the improvement of the balance sheet. The gross margin reached 1,584 million euros in 2022, 4.5% more than in 2021. The operating margin before write-offs grew by 24.6% to stand at 723 million euros and, in exchange, write-offs loans fell by 20.8%.
Regarding the economic evolution, the group does not have it all with itself and for this reason it has decided to equip itself with new provisions in case of possible defaults. “The improvement in the core banking business and the reduction in operating costs have made it possible to set up extraordinary provisions in the last quarter for an amount close to 50 million euros, to anticipate the possible deterioration of the economy derived from the maintenance of high inflation”, Unicaja has reported.
The bank has been one of those that has adhered to the Code of Good Practices expanded by the financial sector and the Government in the face of possible problems for mortgage debtors due to the sharp rise in the Euribor. Although for the moment no entity has seen these doubtful credits emerge. In fact, the non-performing loan rate remains stable, at 3.5%, while the performing credit investment of individuals increased by 1.8% to 34,491 million euros. On the other hand, Unicaja’s mortgage financing grew by 1.7% in the year, maintaining a low risk profile.
Regarding the merger, the organization has already completed the technological and operational integration of Liberbank into Unicaja. Something that has contributed to the solidity of the numbers, as well as the 8.2% decrease in administrative expenses due to “the synergies derived from the departure of personnel and the planned office closures”.
The entity agreed with the unions an ERE for 1,513 employees, 15.6% of the total, which was added to another 1,200 early retirements already previously agreed. Thus, altogether, 2,713 workers left the bank. The work environment, however, “continues to deteriorate”, according to Comisiones Obreras, which has taken to the streets in recent days in Malaga to ask the entity to “negotiate measures of an economic, organizational, social, occupational health and time nature of work”.
In solvency, Unicaja closed the year with a level of capital of the highest quality, the so-called CET1 fully loaded, of 13%, almost five points above the requirements of the European Central Bank. In fact, the group accumulates excess capital of 1,622 million euros.
THE COUNTRY of the morning
Wake up with the analysis of the day by Berna González Harbor
Leave a Reply