The Two Spanish Big Banks Have Announced Changes In Their Top Management

The metamorphosis of Spanish banks: from a cosy club to tough competitionBoth Santander and BBVA generate most of their profits abroad enabling them to weather downturns in their home market

A few hours after the announcement that Santander (market capitalisation of 71.3 billiones euros) will have a new CEO in 2019, Andrea Orcel, BBVA the second Spanish bank by stock market capitalization (36.7 billion euros) reported that its chairman Francisco González will also leave his post at the beginning of next year. From January 1, the current CEO Carlos Torres Vila will be the new chairman of the Group.

Francisco González leaves the entity which he has chaired since 2002, and belonged to since 1996, at a time when the bank is redesigning its profile towards a more technological one. Furthermore, BBVA is confronting the effects of the Turkish crisis and the threat of the debt markets. Carlos Torres joined the bank in 2008 and has been the architect of the bank’s digitalization shift.

According to the analysts of Renta4, “this change supposes a continuity to the bank’s current strategy and just confirms the recent rumours that  pointed to Carlos Torres as successor.”

With this change, BBVA will follow the European Central Bank’s criteria that encourages – but does not oblige- separating the executive role from the chairmanship of eurozone financial entities. The European supervisor believes that the chairman should be an important position, but more political and representative, while the executive work should be done by a CEO with a more financial profile.

As regards the appointment of new Santander’s CEO Andrea Orcel, replacing José Antonio Álvarez, it is expected that this appointment will be also effective from the start of 2019. The chairperson of the financial institution, Ana Botín, commented that the designation will help “digitalisation of the bank” in order to become an open global platform for financial services, although the appointment does disrupt the entity’s strategy.