MADRID — Banco Santander SA Chairman Emilio Botin on Friday declared a moratorium on big acquisitions.
"We are not planning any significant acquisition or divestment in coming years. Our geographical diversification gives us the right balance," Botin said.
He also sounded a bullish note on the bank's Spanish unit, and said a higher dividend is possible from 2013.
In a speech delivered during Santander's Investors Day held in London, Botin said earnings at the euro zone's largest bank by market value are now clearly below potential, and should improve in coming years.
This should be driven by higher profitability at its ample Spanish branch network, as well as continued growth in emerging markets and market share gains in developed markets like the U.K., U.S. and Germany, he added.
In unusually upbeat remarks about Spain, which is currently posting low economic growth and is threatened by high debt levels in households and corporations, Botin said the bank's domestic unit has already touched bottom, and a "gradual normalization" of provisions, non-performing loans and funding costs is due from 2013.
"Spain's contribution to earnings can be the biggest positive surprise for investors in coming years," Botin said.