Spain’s Santander bank has named a successor to the bank’s president, Emilio Botin, who has died suddenly of heart attack aged 79. It is his daughter Ana Patricia, who heads Santander’s British operation.
Botin was the third generation of his family to steer the bank, and on his watch transformed the small domestic lender into an international powerhouse, buying up finance houses in Latin America and Britain.
Emilio’s eldest daughter Ana Patricia, who runs Santander’s British business, is expected to take over with the full backing of the board of directors.
Tributes came from the world of finance and beyond.
Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guidos said: “I feel deeply affected by the loss of one of the great bankers of Spain and Europe, of a person with a great talent for business, someone who knew how to combine instinct with a leadership capacity which was exceptional and, most certainly, unrepeatable.”
Candido Mendez, head of Spanish union UGT, called Botin: “A fundamental protagonist in the internationalisation of the Spanish financial system. Banco Santander is a reference for all financial changes and innovation at a global level.”
Botin was a keen fan of Formula One and Santander has been a partner of motor racing group McLaren since 2007.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis said: “Emilio was a consummate businessman, who made Santander what it is today. Passionate and charming, he was firm but always fair. I feel privileged to have known him, and proud to be able to call him a friend.
“He adored motor racing – there was no-one more enthusiastic in the McLaren garage than he was when a race win was in the offing. The world has lost a great man.”