The Corporate Banking business continues to experience growth as a result of Sovereign Bank's national charter change that occurred in January of this year as well as an investment in local resources to support large business clients. Lending to Commercial and Industrial businesses grew by 27% during the third quarter of 2012 compared to the same time in 2011.
Net interest income grew by 1.3% to $1.4 billion and fees and other income grew by 5.4% to $449 million for the first nine months of the year when compared to the same period in 2011.
Continued Improvement in Asset Quality
Before the impact of the reporting changes noted below, nonaccrual loans would have been $1.08 billion for the third quarter, down from $1.12 billion in the prior quarter and $2.03 billion as of September 30, 2011, and nonaccrual loans as a percentage of total loans would have decreased to 2.03% from 2.12% in the second quarter of 2012.The current quarter nonaccrual loans were $1.19 billion and were 2.24% of total loans, which included an increase of $111.6 million of loans (0.21% of total loans) which were reported as nonaccrual in accordance with the regulatory guidance requiring loans discharged under Chapter 7 bankruptcy and not reaffirmed by the borrower to be reported as nonaccrual, regardless of their delinquency status. Strong Capital Position Sovereign Bank continues to be one of the best capitalized financial institutions in the U.S. As of September 30, 2012, Sovereign's total equity was $12.9 billion. Sovereign is a "well-capitalized" institution with all regulatory capital ratios continuing to be above applicable regulatory benchmarks. Sovereign's Tier I Common Capital Ratio 1 and Tier I Risk-Based Capital Ratio were 12.84% as of September 30, 2012. The current regulatory threshold for a "well-capitalized" Tier I distinction is 6%. Total assets were $82.5 billion as of September 30, 2012, an 8.6% increase over the same date in 2011. Total deposits were $51.1 billion as of September 30, 2012, a 7.4% increase over September 30, 2011. Investing in Sovereign's Franchise General and administrative expenses for the third quarter were $347.5 million, compared to $329.0 million for the same period in 2011, reflecting Sovereign's continued investment in technology, people and resources to better support our customers. Sovereign Bank's investment in the STARR (Steps to Achieve Remarkable Results) program which focuses on improving the overall customer experience through training and dedicated resources and tools in the Retail Network has been successful in evolving the bank's culture to a needs based, client centric approach. "We are very committed to providing the right tools and education to our employees to meet a wide range of our customers' financial needs," said Nuno Matos, Managing Director of Retail Banking. "This is a multi-year focus with a strong emphasis on evolving our culture and enhancing the experience our customers have with the bank. Over 90% of our branch team members have been exposed to the STARR approach and we continue to see growth in those branches that have successfully implemented this approach." Investing in the Communities We Serve A core component of Sovereign's corporate social responsibility program is the bank's commitment to education through the Universities program. Sovereign has committed funds for over 775 college scholarships during the year 2012 of which 350 were funded as of September 30, 2012. Sovereign has also invested over $9.7 million in grants/scholarships to higher education and gifts/donations to not-for-profit and community based organizations during the first nine months of 2012. Additionally, Sovereign continues to provide over $1.3 billion in lower cost lending to low to moderate income families, businesses and neighborhoods as of September 30, 2012. To further emphasize the bank's commitment to the communities it serves, Sovereign Bank announced a multi-year agreement with the New England Revolution soccer team. Sovereign bank has become the "Official Bank of the New England Revolution" and through this agreement will focus heavily on the Bank's community involvement in New England through use of the New England Revolution's Community Clinics in the Bank's local neighborhoods.