One of the main tasks that must be carried out now, which will be starting in January Santander España's executive president and also executive vice president of the group, José Antonio Álvarez, will be to launch the new structure of the bank with the Banco Popular network , once obtained last Friday the authorizations for the legal merger of both brands. It will also negotiate the ERE that will start the entity after finishing the union elections in February.
The bank's schedule is to make the Popular and Pastor brands disappear definitively in June 2019, after having undertaken the integration of Santander's technology platform with those of the entity intervened in June 2017 (which will begin in the coming weeks) . The merger of the offices of both entities will also occur during these dates.
The goal is "to make Santander Spain the best bank in the country and the best group franchise", according to a letter that Álvarez sent to the staff last Friday.
In it, the new president of Santander Spain ensures that this "is from today my main objective, along with Rami Aboukhair, CEO (of Spain)."
Santander Spain is among the second or third country for group benefits, depending on the quarter. The first franchise is Brazil, which contributed 1,324 million euros in the first half, followed in this case by Spain, whose commercial bank added 780 million euros, following the integration of Popular. However, if the scourge of toxic assets and other variables is discounted, the bank will close with losses this year, even if the banking activity is positive and generates the aforementioned benefits.
Spain, in fact, adds approximately 17% of the group's result if Popular's negative charges are not taken into account, nor those corresponding to the Sole Resolution Fund. The objective is that the weight of Spain rise more once the bank intervened is fully integrated into the group, as repeatedly insisted by those responsible.
The UK franchise added to the group profit of 692 million euros from January to June, after suffering a 16% drop compared to the previous year, with what happens to be the third country by profits of the Spanish banking giant.
Alvarez's challenge is complicated, if one takes into account his statements in the commission that investigates the financial crisis in Congress. "Banco Santander does not make money in Spain. All the benefit comes from other countries (…). For six years our total business in Spain that includes Banco Santander España, the corporate center and the real estate division does not generate profits. "
In the same letter sent to the staff, Álvarez explains "the acquisition of Popular was a great milestone in the history of Grupo Santander in Spain. Now we have to complete the integration guaranteeing that we will not lose a single client and preparing ourselves for a new stage in which we will grow and consolidate our position as the leaders of the sector ".
In this letter Alvarez also appreciates the work that Aboukhair is carrying out. "Under his direction, much progress has been made to build a more solid, profitable and sustainable business, based on the trust and loyalty of our customers."
The message to the template comes three days after the changes were announced at the top of the group, with the signing of Andrea Orcel as CEO, and the change of Alvarez to Spain after the departure of Rodrigo Echenique.
Despite these changes in the top management of the group, Alvarez and Aboukhair have no intention of beginning negotiations with the unions to carry out the employment regulation dossier (ERE) in the Santander and Popular branch networks as a consequence of their merger until March. In that month, the banking union elections, which will be held on February 13, will have been finalized, and the new union delegates will also have been appointed.
In addition, it is expected that the technological integration is about to conclude or even complete. The objective is to reach the end of June with an agreement already signed and with the employees who accept the conditions for early retirement, already adhering to the new departures plan.
At the moment, the number of employees that the bank intends to leave the entity has not been communicated, although the figure that more shuffled unions and experts is that of 3,000 workers, after the departure of 1,100 workers who have left in the ERE of services central offices signed in December. At the end of 2017 the number of employees in the group in Spain amounted to about 33,000.
This September has also begun to merge the 13 territorial and the corresponding human resources departments of Santander and Popular. This process was approved at the end of last July. In this way, in these territories there are already only teams that operate under the Santander brand.