from Antonio Simoes to Hector Grisi

Daniel KnightCONTINUEMadrid Updated: 06/14/2022 1:10 p.m.

A new number 2 -or half number 1, depending on functions- for Ana Botín. Banco Santander has already started the replacement of its CEO, José Antonio Álvarez. Without excessive hurry but with names already on the table. And with one goal: to avoid an Orcel 2.0 case.

In 2018, the entity announced the signing of Andrea Orcel, from UBS, as the new CEO. The relationship was cut short months later and he did not take office. The outcome has been
a millionaire trial
that the Italian has won, for the moment. This experience has taught Ana Botín a lesson and now she is extremely cautious with the next appointment.

The entity will try to close the relief in the remainder of the year and also obtain the approval of the European Central Bank (ECB), which has to give its endorsement to whoever occupies the position.

Hence the need for the name to be a consensus candidate. In addition, within this consensus it will be essential to have the 'OK' of the shareholder investment funds to avoid future internal shocks.

The names that are on the table are several and varied, with different profiles but all with a marked international character. Because Santander is a global bank that stopped being just Spanish and even European decades ago. The appointment in 2018 of the Italian Orcel went in that direction given his international career, but this time the balance is leaning on the other side of the Atlantic.

The proposed candidates go through more for a promotion than for an external incorporation. According to financial sources, among them stands out Héctor Grisi, current head of the North America area and executive president and general director of Grupo Financiero Santander México and Banco Santander México. A man who joined the entity a few years ago from Credit Suisse, where he held positions of various responsibilities. The global banker poster fulfills it to spare and the experience that he amasses guarantees him to also pass the ECB exam, which in positions of this caliber does analyze the candidates exhaustively.

But he is not the only one in the list. Antonio Simoes, head of Europe and CEO of Santander Spain, is another of the names to succeed José Antonio Álvarez as CEO, although he would not be the best positioned. An international profile that joined the bank just a year ago from HSBC, where he spent more than a decade. Along the way, other names have remained, such as Víctor Matarranz, global head of Wealth Management.

In short, these are people who already know the bank from within and who accumulate regional responsibility, so the jump would not be from scratch. They even stand out for their daily management and have a good reputation within the group. However, who will be chosen is not yet defined. From the bank, meanwhile, do not comment.

Likewise, on the table was a man with a large poster in the Ibex 35 and globally: Pablo Isla. In Santander he liked him as a candidate to succeed Álvarez once he has already left his functions at Inditex. A person with legal and management experience, and with some experience also in banking, although the 'trophy' for the best CEO in the world was won in the textile group. In addition, as a point in his favor was his good relationship with Ana Botín.

However, this last option did not prosper and ended up being buried to look for an internal candidate, among whom the best placed is Héctor Grisi. In fact, it would not be a casual promotion since the United States and Mexico, led by him, are two very juicy markets for the bank and that are reporting large benefits to the group.

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