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Newly appointed Ana Botin shakes up Santander leadership

Jose Antonio Alvarez and Ana Botin

In her first major move since becoming chair, Santander fourth-gen Ana Botin has appointed a new chief executive to lead the family-owned Spanish bank, and made four new appointments to the board.

Botin become chair in September following the death of her father, Emilio Botin. Santander is the biggest family business in Spain, with annual revenues of €39 billion in 2013.

In a statement released Tuesday, Banco Santander revealed Jose Antonio Alvarez would replace Javier Marin as chief executive. Marin was appointed to the role two years ago by Botin’s father.

At the board level, Bruce Carnegie-Brown and Rodrigo Echenique, an existing non-executive board member, have become vice chairs, while Sol Daurella and Carlos Fernandez have become independent directors.

The bank has pointed out that five women make up its 15-member board, and also boasted about its geographical diversity. The board includes members from Spain, Mexico, the US, and the UK.

In a statement, Botin said Marin, who has worked at the family-controlled business 23 years, led Santander’s commercial transformation over the past two years. She also recognised Fernando de Asua and Abel Matutes, two board members who had resigned.

Botin added: “The financial services industry today faces many important challenges. But Banco Santander is uniquely well-positioned to succeed, thanks to our strong local retail and commercial banking presence in 10 European and American markets.”

Antonio has been chief financial officer at the bank for the past decade – a position that will be filled by Jose Garcia Cantera.

Emilio Botin was credited with turning the domestic bank into an international lender – something that would shield the family business from Spain’s future economic woes.

Ana Botin had been chief executive of the bank’s UK division before her father’s death from a heart attack. Her appointment has made her one of the most powerful women in European banking.

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