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Spain's Santander cancels final dividend on 2019 earnings

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Santander, the euro zone's largest lender by market value, is seen on a branch in the Andalusian capital of Seville

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's Santander <SAN.MC> will cancel the payment of a final dividend against its 2019 earnings and save the money to boost capital defences against the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The European Central Bank has told lenders to skip dividend payments and share buybacks until October at the earliest and use profits to support an economy hamstrung by restrictions on movement implemented to stop the spread of the virus.

Even with a broad lockdown in place since March 14, Spain has registered an increase in coronavirus cases to more than 110,000. The death toll surpassed 10,000 on Thursday.

Santander will wait until "there is more visibility of the effects of the COVID-19 crisis" and its own 2020 financial results are known before proposing any dividend payments.

In November of 2019, the bank had paid 0.10 euros per share in cash against last years' earnings. It had been due to approve a 0.13 euro-per-share final dividend at a shareholder meeting on Friday.

(Reporting By Jesús Aguado; editing by Isla Binnie and Sonya Hepinstall)