Has Ana Botín conquered the City?

ana botinThe business daily Cinco Dias today devotes an article to Santander UK’s CEO Ana Patricia Botín: the difficulties she faces, as well as the achievements and the respect she has earned in the City since she arrived to London a year ago with the intention of turning Santander UK into the most profitable entity in the United Kingdom, and ultimately after her father decides to retire, her taking over the largest bank in the euro zone. Has she obtained good marks?

“The English papers received her a year ago with pomp, curiosity and a lot of anticipation. Ana Patricia Botín landed in November 2010 in the front pages as ‘The Princess of Santander’ as The Sunday Times nicknamed her, or ‘The Heiress’. With pomp because she arrived to London to lead one of the largest UK banks, Santander UK, and because she entered the select club of non-British executive in charge of reputable companies in the country. Simultaneously, she became the first woman to head one of the heavyweights of the British banking industry. Curiosity and anticipation, as the heir to five generations of bankers.”

According to David Buik, a partner at financial consultancy BGC in London,

“her predecessor, Antonio Horta-Osório was special, he did a great job and now she has to follow his steps. If she does not act extravagantly, everything will move along naturally. I believe that investors and the general public are happy to see that she has a similar profile and appears to be a great communicator who knows how to fill the gap after Osório’s departure to Lloyds Banking Group.”

For now, the financial heart of London has given her its thumbs up. The City is happy with Botín, although her great revalidation is yet to come. She has marked 2013 in red on her calendar. She aims is to make Santander the most profitable bank in the UK by 2014. For now, Lloyds Banking Group is the market leader based on number of customers whereas Barclays leads on revenue.

Its strategy to the top inevitably involves the launching of Santander UK in an initial public offering on the stock market. The debut was to be in 2011, but market turbulence has been postponed it to 2013. There is a second reason, though, namely the uncertainty looming over the British banking sector with the imposition of new rules after the final report of the Independent Banking Commission.

David Builk notes that

“The future is full of challenges for Ana Patricia Botín and banks in general. Santander UK accounts for 24% of the national mortgages and is fully exposed to the designs of an economy that could wither in the next two years while it is expected that the number of foreclosures will rise. Those who look closely at her career have the impression that Ana Patricia Botín will lead the bank in a prudent and conservative manner.”

About the Author

The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.

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