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Santander has warned of a “challenging environment” after its UK profits fell sharply in the first half of 2018. Earnings in the UK fell by 16% because of investment costs and weaker revenues. Restructuring costs also took their toll in its home base of Spain.

But its global profits rose by 4% after strong growth in the US and Brazil. Overall, the bank said it earned €3.75bn (£3.3bn) in the January-to-June period while increasing its customers by three million to 140 million.

Net earnings jumped 6% in Brazil, its largest market, while its US profits climbed 37.5%. However, its profits in Argentina fell 29% in euro terms because of the weak peso, while Spanish profits were down 20%.

In the UK – which accounts for a fifth of the bank’s profits – earnings fell to €692m.

Santander executive chair Ana Botin said the bank had delivered “strong growth in underlying revenue and improving credit quality, despite strong currency headwinds”.

She said the group’s “balanced presence across both Europe and the Americas” had helped it achieve “the most predictable results amongst our peers”.

Growth in countries including Brazil and the US had “more than offset a more challenging environment in other markets”.

Meanwhile, the firm says it is to delist on stock markets in Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, and Italy, as there are only low volumes of trading in its shares on those bourses.

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