The Alliance and Leicester has reported a 12% rise in annual profits.
Profits up at the A&L
Pre-tax profit for the calendar year 2003 rose to £525m at the mortgage bank, up from the £468.3m in 2002, and
near the top of market expectations.
The company also announced that it is to buy back between 100 million and 150 million of shares this year.
Alliance and Leicester chief executive Richard Pym said the annual result were "strong" and that he was confident the growth would continue in 2004.
"In 2003 we achieved all of our strategic targets and delivered a strong set
of results," said Mr Pym.
He added that the growth was achieved across both the bank's retail and wholesale banking divisions.
"Our customer focused approach, supported by our responsible approach to lending, makes us confident we will continue to deliver real value for our customers and shareholders in the future," said Mr Pym.
For 2003 the Alliance and Leicester reported record gross unsecured lending of £1.9bn, up 36% on 2002; and gross mortgage lending of £8.1bn, up 27%.
It said mortgage lending accelerated in the second half of 2003 and it expected no significant change in lending to its residential customers this year.