Banking skills, not name, key to Ana Botin's success at Santander

Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:48pm EDT
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By Jesús Aguado and Julien Toyer

MADRID (Reuters) - Ana Botin's appointment at the head of Santander signals a continuity in strategy at the bank that has pleased analysts and investors, with banking sources expecting her to prove herself by growing the lender through acquisitions and modernizing it.

The euro zone's biggest bank named Ana Botin as its new head on Wednesday hours after her father Emilio's sudden death, continuing the family's century-old rule of the Spanish bank despite owning today no more than 2 percent of its shares.

Although major international funds which hold stakes in the bank have in the past showed reluctance to accept the Botins' control, none of them has yet spoken out.

Shares in the lender closed down around 0.6 percent on Thursday, underperforming peers and Spain's main index Ibex, although they are still up 25.6 percent year-to-date.

A senior source at Santander told Reuters the transition had been well prepared and contacts with investors took place over the last months.

"They were not caught by surprise," said the source.

The bank also briefed analysts on Wednesday, and notes to clients at UBS and Oddo Securities among others were strongly positive about Ana Botin's capacity to manage the transition.

Sheila Bair, a member of Santander's board of directors, told Reuters her name had nothing to do with her appointment and nobody was better qualified to run the bank than Ana Botin.   Continued...

Ana Patricia Botin speaks during a news conference in Madrid in this April 6, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Victor Fraile/Files