The inheritance proceedings show beyond any doubt that Santander faces a huge governance deficit. Its decision-making bodies were designed to rubberstamp the late Emilio Botín’s will. Little wonder, as directors were chosen for their shatterproof loyalty to the patriarch.
The new Chairwoman should move swiftly to redress this abnormal state-of-play. A global financial player needs a far more independent and skilled governing body. For all the experience she might have in managing Santander UK, taking over control of the worldwide Group requires an enhanced know-how. Her delivery in London was far less inspiring than expected, failing to impress fellow colleagues. She badly needs to follow her father’s close partners advice in running the business. Brilliant executives such as Rodríguez Inciarte should help her to steer the boat to safe shores.
Ana Botín faces rough times ahead. Santander has to undertake further adjustments to anchor solvency. Profitability lags behind curtailing the drive for increased capital in aligning standards with the other main players in the sector. Moreover, demanding supervisory requirements will improve its capacity to raise money.
The new Chairwoman is bound to perform a huge overhaul to foster enhanced governance. The sooner she does it, the better.