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Banesto: 2006 Profit More Than Doubles

Spain's Banco Espanol de Credito, or Banesto, said Wednesday it more than doubled full-year profit in 2006 after selling its controlling stake in domestic real-estate company Urbis.

Madrid-based Banesto said net income rose to 1.45 billion euros ($1.89 billion) in the 12 months through December, up from 570.4 million euros ($742.5 million) the previous year.

Banesto made a one-time gain of 1.18 billion euros ($1.54 billion) from the sale of its stake in Urbis, while incurring charges of 403 million euros ($524.6 million) from early retirement and tax costs.

Banesto is a key contributor to the results of Spain's largest financial institution, Santander Central Hispano.

Excluding gains from the sale, 2006 net profit rose 18% to 673 million euros ($876.1 million), helped by improved lending margins, Banesto said.

Banesto's full-year net interest income rose 11 percent to 1.24 billion euros ($1.61 billion).

The stock fell 2% to 17.74 euros ($23.09) in Madrid.