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May 11, 2021

Ana Botin, the new chairman of Santander, Spain’s largest bank

Ana Botin, daughter of former Banco Santander chairman Emilio Botin, who died of a heart attack Tuesday, was named as the bank’s new chairman Wednesday, Wall Street Journal informs. Botin, 53, is the fourth generation of the Botin family to lead Banco Santander. Her father took over the bank’s leadership role from his own father in 1986 and turned the company into a financial powerhouse and Spain’s largest bank.
His sudden death left a vacuum in the top leadership and many analysts and shareholders were uncertain if Ana Botin would be tapped for the role, even though Emilio Botin had been grooming her to be his successor when he stepped down.
Ana Botin was not necessarily a guaranteed choice, especially considering the uproar over her re-election as a director earlier this year and concerns that a publicly-held bank shouldn’t be an assumed family dynasty.
Ana Botin, who currently leads the bank’s London operations, has been with Banco Santander for most of the past 25 years after an 8-year run at JPMorgan’s investment bank early in her career. When her re-election to the board of directors came due this year, two shareholder advisory firms, ISS and Glass Lewis & Co., mounted campaigns for shareholders to vote her down, expatica.com informs. One firm felt that there were too many Botin family members on the board, and the other that there was not enough independent representation. The campaign failed and Botin was re-elected as a director with 81.3 percent of the votes. While there is some concern over going with yet another Botin family member, appointing Ana Botin would lend a sense of continuity. And her list of accomplishments is nothing to scoff at: She ran Santander’s UK unit, and previously served as executive chairman of Banesto, a Spanish bank that is majority owned by Banco Santander. Santander looked increasingly abroad, moving into the British market in 2004 with the acquisition of Abbey National. In recent years, Santander has been particularly active in Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico, helping to protect it from the brunt of the economic downturn in Spain and Europe. The Santander group now has an estimated 100 million customers around the globe.

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