Europe's biggest bank names new boss in reshuffle

25th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

Spain's Santander, the biggest bank in Europe by market value, on Tuesday named Jose Antonio Alvarez its new chief executive in a reshuffle after longtime chairman Emilio Botin died.

The bank's chief financial officer for the past decade, Alvarez was promoted to the top management post to replace Javier Marin after his two years in the job, the bank said in a statement.

Several other managers were internally promoted in the first major shakeup at the lender since Ana Botin took over as chairman after her father's death in September.

Emilio Botin died suddenly of a heart attack after leading the global expansion of the bank during nearly 30 years at its helm.

Santander said it had appointed Bruce Carnegie-Brown as first deputy chairman and lead independent director of the board.

He is a board member at the bank's British unit, which Ana Botin led before she became chairman of the lender, and had worked at JP Morgan.

The bank also named Sol Daurella, who chairs the division in Spain and Portugal of soft drinks firm Coca-Cola, and Carlos Fernandez, the president Mexican investment fund Finacess, as independent board directors.

They will replace Fernando de Asua and Abel Matutes who had been serving on the board for more than a decade.

Santander named Rodrigo Echenique, a nonexecutive board member, as deputy chairman and promoted Jose Garcia Cantera to the post of chief financial officer.

Cantera was a bank analyst at Citi before serving as the head of Spanish bank Banesto, which was integrated with Santander last year.

The new managers will take up their posts on January 1, subject to regulators' approval.

The Santander board will then have 15 members, of which nine are independent. Five members will be women.

Ana Botin thanked Marin for his 23 years at the bank, including the past two as chief executive.

"During his two years in this role, he has led the commercial transformation of our bank, bringing innovative management to lead our customer segmentation and service improvement initiatives, while also improving our profitability and efficiency," she said in the statement.

Emilio Botin was one of the most powerful men in Spain, where critics branded him a symbol of excesses in the banking system which sparked a ruinous property crash -- although his own bank survived it.

Santander said its net profit jumped by 52 percent in the third quarter of this year to 1.6 billion euros ($2.0 billion) thanks to lower costs and higher earnings in its main markets: Spain, Brazil and Britain, where it bought Abbey National bank in 2004.

The new Santander team will oversee plans to reduce the lender's costs by 1.5 billion euros between 2014 and 2016 and monitor the situation in its new market like Brazil, which has entered recession.

© 2014 AFP

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