MADRID (Reuters) – Santander <SAN.MC> said it would contest a 100 million euro ( £90 million) lawsuit being brought by Italian banker Andrea Orcel after it withdrew an offer to make him its chief executive.
Santander offered Orcel, one of Europe’s highest profile bankers, the role but then changed its mind in January, saying it could not meet his pay demands.
Former UBS banker Orcel has filed a lawsuit in Madrid, claiming breach of contract and Santander is due to respond formally this week.
“The bank has acted with total transparency and will present and defend its position before the courts,” secretary of the board Jaime Perez Renovales said during an extraordinary general meeting in the northern Spanish city of Santander.
“We are going to prove that the reasons given on the day to annul the appointment respond to reality and that the necessary conditions were not met for his appointment and hiring to be effective,” Renovales said after Chairman Ana Botin passed the question over to him.
Santander has said the cost of compensating Orcel for the deferred awards he had earned over the past seven years at UBS and other benefits would be significantly above the board’s original expectations at the time of appointment.
“The bank’s decision, although difficult, was the best for the group, and for its shareholders, and a rigorous governance process took place,” Renovales said.
(Reporting by Jesús Aguado; additional reporting by Andres González; Editing by Paul Day and Keith Weir)