Banco Santander already has a new CEO. José Antonio Álvarez, who has held the position since 2015, will make way for Héctor Grisi, current CEO of the entity in Mexico and responsible for the North America area.
«The board of directors of Banco Santander has announced today that it has proposed Héctor Blas Grisi Checa, current CEO of Santander México and head of the North America region, as CEO of the group and member of the board of the entity with effect from January 1, 2023, subject to the corresponding approvals,” the bank reported. Grisi will report directly to the board of directors, in line with the new management structure announced on February 24 of this year, and not to Ana Botín, in line with the governance practices demanded by the European Central Bank (ECB), which does not wants CEOs with full control over entities.
Thus, Grisi will be responsible for all Santander's regions, countries and global businesses. He will guide the course of the bank after the Covid crisis and with the rise in interest rates in Europe already on the horizon. The firm has indicated that its name has come out of a "rigorous succession process" in which several candidates have appeared, as published by ABC.
In the final list were the person in charge of the Europe area, Antonio Simoes; Carlos Rey, from South America; and Grisi himself, from North America. The entity has opted for the latter, also in view of the good results achieved in geographies such as Mexico or the United States, which are two essential territories in Santander's commercial strategy.
Grisi's name has consensus within the bank and a track record that supports him in the financial sector. In addition, it has great international experience, something that is essential for Santander, which for decades ceased to be a local bank to become a global giant. Beyond that, this meets what the entity was looking for that it be an internal candidate, after the fiasco suffered in 2018-2019 with Andrea Orcel, who was going to be the CEO then but whose appointment ended up in court with conviction for Santaner. That episode served the bank to close itself more towards internal candidates to avoid an Orcel 2.0 case.
Héctor Grisi's professional career began more than 35 years ago. Before joining Santander, he worked for 18 years at Credit Suisse, where he held various positions of responsibility, including director of investment banking for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and later CEO and CEO of Credit Suisse Mexico. The new CEO landed at Santaner in 2015 to lead the subsidiary in Mexico and in 2019 he was appointed head of the North American region, with the United States on the rise and which is now in fact the main area of the bank in terms of contribution to profit .
Ana Botín, president of the bank, has indicated that she has "a lot of confidence" in who will be her new CEO. “He has decades of experience and in-depth knowledge of our markets and our lines of business. In addition, in these years he has demonstrated his leadership, teamwork and ability to create value for our clients and shareholders. His excellent results as CEO of Santander Mexico and head of North America speak for themselves and are the best example of why the board has chosen him to lead the bank in this new phase of growth and transformation”, she commented.
José Antonio Álvarez, however, will not leave the entity but will continue as non-executive vice president. Santander, and the president herself, have thanked him for his contribution to the entity during all these years as CEO, as well as his "leadership and dedication".