Banco Santander gets new CEO in first major change under Ana Botín

José Antonio Álvarez

Banco Santander, parent company of Santander Consumer USA, has named José Antonio Álvarez chief executive officer.

Álvarez replaces Javier Marín in the first major change since Ana Botín became executive chairman. The bank also named a new CFO and several new members of the director board.

“This is a new era in our industry and our history,” Botín said in announcing the move. “These changes will advance our progress to be the world’s best group of local retail and commercial banks, and enable us to fulfill the high international standards of corporate governance we have set ourselves.”

Ana Botín recently became leader of the Spain-based bank following the death of her father, Emilio.

Álvarez, who Botín called “a highly qualified and talented leader,” has served as Banco Santander’s chief financial officer for 10 years, the last two years under Marín.

“There is no one who knows our business, our balance sheet, our people or investors better,” Botín said of the new CEO. “For several years, he has been recognized by Institutional Investor magazine for leading the best finance team, as well as the best investor relations program, noted specifically for its transparency and rigor. He will bring this excellence to the CEO’s office. I very much look forward to working with him to address our opportunities and challenges together.”

Jose Garcia Cantera, head of Santander Global Banking and Markets, will take over as the bank’s CFO.  Cantera was a top bank analyst at Citi before he became CEO of Banesto, a leading bank in efficiency, balance sheet strength and customer satisfaction which was integrated into Banco Santander in 2012.

Botín thanked the outgoing CEO for his 23 years of service to Banco Santander “and his substantial contribution to our business,” but gave no reason for his departure.

“As the global head of Private Banking, Asset Management and Insurance [Marín] helped us build global business of which we are very proud,” the executive chairman said. “For the past two years, he has brought a more innovative management approach and has led our work to improve our client-focus and service. During his tenure as CEO, we improved our profitability and efficiency.”

(Botín prefers the title executive chairman, in part, to maintain continuity with her father.)

“Tuesday’s changes demonstrated Ms. Botín’s eagerness to establish herself as a powerful chairman, transforming a board that her father, Emilio Botín, had built up over decades …,” according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. “The appointments give Santander a younger board, a sign that Ms. Botín, 54 years old, is trying to give the bank a fresh face.”

See the Santander Consumer USA blog for more news on auto-, auto-finance and SCUSA-related topics.

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