Following the death of Emilio Botin, who headed Spanish bank Santander for 28 years, his daughter Ana Patricia has been named as the new chairwoman.
The 79-year-old turned a regional Spanish lender into one of the world’s biggest banks and helping to drive Spain’s remarkable economic growth in the 1990s.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said: “Botin was a man capable of making Santander our country’s most important bank. He has been a great ambassador for Spain. I am so sorry and I embrace his family.”
Under Botin, Santander bought banks across Latin America in the 1990s and took over Britain’s Abbey National 10 years ago.
When much of Spain’s banking sector needed to be bailed out two years ago, Santander’s international footprint protected it from the country’s broader economic crash.
After succeeding his father in 1986, Emilio Botin, grew Santander from a bank with 1,650 branches and 10,000 employees to the eurozone’s largest with nearly 14,400 branches worldwide and 184,000 on the payroll.
Ana Patricia Botin, has had a long career in finance and has led the British arm of Santander for the last four years.
But she will be under pressure from day one to prove herself worthy to follow in her father’s footsteps.
Euronews correspondent in Santander, Denis Loctier, said: “Ana Patricia Botin was seen by many as the natural heir to the Santander throne, held by her family for three previous generations, but support for her in the banking world has not been unanimous. Some critics have voiced the thought that modern banking has no role for old-fashioned family dynasties.”