António Horta-Osório was in line to take over Banco Santander, the biggest bank in Europe.He has been CEO of the Spanish bank’s UK subsidiary since 2006 and it was no secret that he was part of the succession plan.
But clearly the guy is not Mr. Predictable. He’s a scuba diving fanatic, having notched up 850 deep sea dives, 100 of which are shark dives. He’s obviously not afraid of a challenge.
We’ve done our research on Horta-Osório and one thing is for sure: this guy is a real charmer. Apparently he’s “suave”; he “is known for his charming manner“; he has an “urbane exterior”; and he is “a most affable and highly diplomatic operator.“
Just check out his photo. He looks like something out of a James Bond movie.
Apparently, he’s also a retail banking guru.
Horta-Osorio, according to the FT,
[H]as held three big jobs and in each case has built businesses from a position of weakness – first in Brazil, then in Portugal, and finally in the UK. And he had been widely seen, both inside and outside Santander, as the heir apparent to the chief executive, currently held by Alfredo Saenz
He also helped steer Santander U.K relatively, unharmed through the recession.
From the Wall Street Journal,
Over the past four years, Mr. Horta-Osório has transformed Santander’s U.K. unit from a laggard based on the old Abbey business into the U.K.’s best-performing retail bank with the strongest liquidity, lowest delinquency rates, lowest cost-income ratio and highest returns on equity in the market.
Here’s what else we know:
- He has an MBA from Insead, where he graduated top of his class.
- He’s smart – he was a professor at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa.
- He began his banking career at Citibank Portugal. He was Head of Capital Markets.
- He worked for Goldman Sachs in New York and London.
- He joined Santander as CEO of the Portuguese business in ’93.
- One of the reasons he is supposed to have taken Lloyds as opposed to holding out for the Santander leadership, is that he loves London.
- He’s not one of those City bankers who whines that bankers have been bashed unfairly. “I wouldn’t say bankers are being victimized. I would say that as an industry it has to work hard to improve its credibility,” the Telegraph reported.
- He’s married with three children.
- He’s gone scuba diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa
- He’s the one who pushed Santander’s sponsorship of the McLaren Formula One team