Satander UK assures clients of safe deposit

Santander UK, owned by Spain's Banco Santander, yesterday urged its 25 million UK customers not to panic after it was caught up in the ­worsening eurozone crisis, and investors started withdrawing their deposits. The bank has about 1,380 branches across Britain.

The move came after ratings agency Moody's downgraded the bank to an A2 rating, and that of its Spanish parent (See: Moody's cuts credit ratings of Spanish banks).

Another 15 Spanish banks were also downgraded by Moody's amid concern about their exposure to debts. Official figures showed bad debts had risen to their highest level in 18 years.

Santander UK stressed that it operated as a separate entity, adding, ''This ­structure acts as a firewall to prevent problems within one part of the group spreading to other units in the event of financial difficulties.

''This means money raised in the UK stays in the UK.''

Its Spanish owners would need approval from City watchdog the Financial ­Services Authority to take money from the UK arm.