Santander to cut 1,900 jobs in UK

Santander is to cut 1,900 jobs in the UK next year as the Spanish banking giant integrates the acquisitions that have made it one of the country’s largest lenders.

The job losses, which represent about 8 per cent of the bank’s 23,000 UK employees, come after Santander this year bought Alliance & Leicester and the branches and deposits of Bradford & Bingley, the failed mortgage lender, to add to its earlier acquisition of Abbey.

Although widely expected, the cuts will add to the gloomy outlook for jobs in Britain, which is already facing rising unemployment as a result of the financial crisis and sharp economic slowdown.

Thousands of jobs are also expected to go as a result of the merger of Lloyds TSB and HBOS, which HBOS approved Friday.

Most of the job losses would arise from transferring A&L and B&B’s systems on to Santander’s proprietary computer platform, called Partenon. It will also eliminate back office and support jobs across the three banks.

Santander said there would be “minimal” impact on employees who deal with customers through branches and call centres.

The bank has almost 1,300 branches across the UK and is expecting to maintain that network.

When it bought A&Lin July, Santander promised cost savings of £180m by the end of 2011.

António Horta-Osório, chief executive of Santander’s UK operations, said: “Santander is committed to continuing the growth of its UK businesses profitably and has already shown through Abbey that it can drive efficiencies in operational areas in order to grow its retail business and provide customers with greater value-for-money products.”

Santander has taken advantage of the credit crisis and the withdrawal of competitors to expand its UK mortgage lending.

The bank Friday said it was also accelerating its growth plans in lending to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The combined business has already increased lending by 25 per cent so far this year, and is planning to extend its product range and recruit up to 100 small business advisers for the Abbey branch network.

Santander transferred its operations to the Partenon system following the acquisition of Abbey.

The platform, developed in Spain and deployed across large parts of Santander’s network, allows bank employees to view the bank’s entire relationship with a particular customer, helping them to sell a broader range of products.

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