October 21, 2020

Orcel, Popular and its financial city

Orcel, Popular and its financial city

Banco Santander has lived a week for oblivion in which in addition to having to back down in the appointment of Andrea Orcel as "number two", has been included in the court case for the bankruptcy of the Popular, and has failed in his attempt to buy back his Financial City.

This last issue was the first "jug of cold water" that Santander received this week, but the one that has most surprised has been the resignation of Orcel's signing as CEO.

At the end of September, Santander announced with great fanfare that it chose the Italian investment banker as "number two" of Ana Botín to relieve José Antonio Álvarez at the beginning of 2019.

Orcel, who was the trusted banker of Emilio Botín and advised the group in the large corporate operations of the last 20 years, occupied until that moment the position of co-delegate delegate of the Swiss bank UBS, which had deferred part of his salary to pay it in the next seven years.

In total, more than 50 million euros that UBS clarified that it was not willing to pay the manager if he went to another bank and that Santander refused to assume to consider this amount "unacceptable".

For that reason, according to the official version, Orcel was renounced, a "difficult" decision in the words of Botín itself, which, nevertheless, was "convinced" that it had been the "correct one".

UBS, for its part, has ensured that it acted responsibly and informed "in a transparent manner to all parties before any decision was made."

Analysts and investors did not give credit to an entity such as Santander, the largest bank in the euro zone, announcing a signing of these characteristics without having it tied and then back down.

Financial sources have explained that in these negotiations "nothing is left to chance", and that even a pre-contract is usually made in which it is established that if for some reason other than the manager is not hired, you must compensate him for leaving his post previous.

Perhaps this is why some take for granted that Orcel will start a legal battle against Santander, which at the moment seems ready to engage in other judicial fronts, including the battle to buy back its Financial City.

The Commercial Court number 9 of Madrid decided earlier this week that the best offer to take over this complex located in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid) was that presented by the multi-millionaire brothers Reuben through the Sorlinda fund.

In 2008, Santander sold the property, in which it continues to be leased, to Marme Inversiones, a company that later went into bankruptcy, which opened the door for interested parties to bid for the facilities.

The Commercial Court number 9 of Madrid decided that the best offer was that of Sorlinda, above that of Banco Santander, which presented its own as one more, although it had a preferential purchase option and has now decided to appeal this decision.

The financial group questions the validity of the offer of the Reuben brothers, based in London but of Indian origin, and has asked Marme bankruptcy administrators to investigate whether the fund complies with the money laundering rules, being linked to the paradise fiscal of the British Virgin Islands.

In addition, Banco Santander warns that if certain controls on its home potential to ensure control of money laundering are not met, it may demand compensation of up to 750 million.

And the battle does not give it for lost, since the own creditor banks of the Reuben doubt their solvency and the possibility that they can face their commitments of payment, according to a letter consulted by Efe.

The bank has received another bad news from the justice, although expected, because the National Court has considered that after absorbing the Popular, Santander has inherited the criminal responsibility of the bank intervened, a decision that will also appeal.

Despite the complicated situation that Santander has experienced this week, the action has not been affected, and in the last five sessions has risen more than 1%, which in the year already advances more than 9%.


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