Banco Santander assumes that the coronavirus pandemic will force it to change its roadmap for the coming years. Chairman Ana Botín already acknowledged at last week’s Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting that the health emergency, which is causing an unprecedented global economic crisis, will lead the group to modify the medium-term objectives in the strategic plan it presented in April 2019 . A review of the targets will be carried out once the horizon is clear, i.e. when the true extent of the economic damage and the speed of recovery is known.
For the time being, the lender has announced that it will not pay a final 2019 dividend (0.13 euros/share planned for May) and suspended payment of the 2020 dividend. This is in line with the decision of the European banks which have adhered to the ECB’s recommendation.
Santander CEO José Antonio Álvarez assured shareholders that all the necessary measures will be taken to mitigate, as far as possible, the impact that volatility and the foreseeable slowdown in global growth could have on its business and on the income statement for 2020.
Meanwhile, Ana Botín announced that the decision to cancel the second dividend for 2019 and the 2020 payment will mean the bank will have 90 billion euros of additional credit. This will be available to help families, companies and SMEs to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 health crisis. For Botin, this crisis is not a financial crisis like the one in 2008. For this reason, she claimed that today the banks are “part of the solution.” “We are much stronger and we are prepared to face global challenges such as the coronavirus,” the chairman said.