Sudden death of Santander chief leaves daughter head of banking dynasty

Ana Botín has been chosen as head of Banco Santander following her father Emilio’s fatal heart attack on Tuesday night.

At an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon, the board unanimously chose Ana, who is currently the chief executive of its UK operations, as Chairman of the banking giant – a role held by her father, grandfather and great-grandfather before her.

This makes Botín, whose family own a 2% stake in Santander, the most powerful female banker in Europe.

Whilst some commentators have questioned the bank’s hereditary approach to leadership, Ana Botín’s years of experience at Santander and JP Morgan make her a compelling choice. She was described by the board as “the most appropriate person, given her personal and professional qualities, experience, track record in the group and her unanimous recognition both in Spain and internationally“.

In a statement, Botín said: “In these difficult times for me and my family, I appreciate the trust of the board of directors and I am fully committed to my new responsibilities. I have been working at Grupo Santander in different countries and with different responsibilities for many years and I have experienced the professionalism and dedication of our teams. We’ll continue to dedicate all our efforts with total determination to keep building a better bank for our customers, employees and shareholders.”

Botín’s UK role is yet to be filled.