Popular Inc. reported a net income of $20.7 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017, compared to a net income of $96.2 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2017.
The results for the quarter reflect the impact of Hurricanes Irma and María on those markets in which the corporation operates a significant portion of its business, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands, the financial institution confirmed.
“Hurricanes Irma and María struck Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in a two-week period, leaving unprecedented destruction in their wake. Since day one, our priority has been to take care of our clients, our colleagues and our communities,” said Popular Inc. CEO Ignacio Álvarez.
On Sept. 6, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the USVI and the BVI as a Category 5 hurricane, causing catastrophic wind and water damage to the islands’ infrastructure, homes and businesses. While hurricane Irma also struck Popular’s operations in Florida, neither its operations nor those of its clients in the region were materially impacted, the banking executive said.
Two weeks later, on Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria, made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane, causing extensive destruction and flooding throughout.
As a result of the hurricane, 100 percent of the island’s population was left without electrical power and there was significant disruption to the water distribution system. Other basic utility and infrastructure services such as communications, ports and transportation were also materially affected, causing a significant disruption to the island’s economic activity.
For the past five weeks, Popular has been dealing with the logistical challenges resulting from the collapse of the electric, water and telecommunications systems in Puerto Rico.
Despite these challenges, it said it has “worked relentlessly” to provide access to cash and other essential banking services as quickly as possible.
“Thanks to the efforts of our colleagues, which have been nothing short of heroic, the number of branches and ATMs in operation has increased consistently. Only one week after María, we had 53 branches out of 168 and 150 ATMs out of 635 up and running, as well as all digital channels, which remained available throughout and after the hurricane,” he said.
Popular currently has 137 branches and 397 ATMs in operation, covering the entire island, including Puerto Rico’s central mountain region and the island municipalities of Culebra and Vieques, which were severely impacted by the hurricanes. In the U.S. and British Virgin Islands it is currently operating seven out of its nine branches.
“We are working closely with our clients to assess their needs, help them rebuild and take advantage of opportunities that will surely arise,” Álvarez said.
“To provide relief, we offered automatic payment deferrals and loan extensions to most of our clients. In addition, we have taken various measures to support our employees in these difficult times, including monetary assistance to those that suffered significant damages to their homes and interest-free loans,” he said.
“While deeply saddened by the human losses and material damage brought by the hurricanes, the resilience we have witnessed inspires us and gives us confidence that we will recover and emerge stronger than before,” he said.
“The current situation presents a unique opportunity to make much needed structural changes on the island, and, as the leading financial institution, Popular is ready to play an important role in efforts to build a stronger and more sustainable Puerto Rico,” Álvarez noted.