The CEO of Santander – one of the Eurozone’s biggest banks – Alfredo Sáenz has been fined, sentenced to a suspended eight-month prison term and banned from banking by the Spanish supreme court.He’s going to appeal the ruling, but things aren’t looking good, according to the WSJ.
That means the bank needs to at least be thinking about a succession plan.
Now, the person who was always thought to be the natural successor for Saenz, António Horta-Osório (head of the UK business), however, left the bank last year to join Lloyds.
So who will take over the Spanish bank?
There are a few candidates, but one of the favourites is the bank’s current chief in the UK, Ana Patricia Botín, the daughter of the bank’s chairman, Emilio Botín. The Botin family were among the founders of the bank.
Her father is said to have been largely responsible for turning Santander “from a sleepy domestic bank” into a global banking powerhouse and according to the WSJ, it’s expected she will eventually succeed him as Chairman of the bank.
She’s a JP Morgan alum, speaks five languages, is a Harvard grad, and constantly appears on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women rankings. She’s described as “the most powerful woman doing business in Spain.”
And to charges of nepotism, she once said: “I started at the bottom. Nobody has given me anything.”
Reasons that Botin is a likely successor to Saenz include the fact that:
- She’s a Santander vet – she’s been with the bank since 1998
- She’s had executive experience – she was formerly the executive Chairman of Banco Español de Crédito
- Her family wields a lot of power over the bank’s board – there are three Botin family members on the board, in fact.
- An outsider is unlikely “given the bank’s strong corporate culture,” and Botin is the ultimate insider.
A main reason she wouldn’t take the post:
- She is expected to stay for at least year as head of the UK business to guide it through an IPO, and if Sáenz is forced to step down sooner than that, it’s apparently less likely that Botín would become CEO
Other possible successors include Francisco Luzón, Santander’s deputy executive chairman for Latin America, or other prominent members of the board, brothers Matías Rodríguez Inciarte and Juan Rodríguez Inciarte, of bank CFO José Antonio Álvarez.
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