Grupo Santander is Spain's largest financial group by far, and one of the top two in the Eurozone. It is also one of the biggest by global footprint, with 11,236 retail branches and 148m customers spread across more than 30 countries. Because of its concentration on retail rather than investment banking, the group successfully sidestepped the credit derivatives crisis which eviscerated so many of its US and European rivals during 2008. Instead, through sure and steady expansion, it has established itself as the largest financial services group in Latin America, and the largest consumer finance business in Europe. It acquired the UK's Abbey in 2004, followed by Sovereign Bank of the US, and got bigger still in 2007 following acquisition of ABN Amro's interests in Latin America. The extraordinary turbulence of 2008 provided several further acquisition opportunities. It strengthened its coverage across Europe with the acquisition of the consumer finance operations of both RBS and GE Money, and bolstered its already extensive domestic position in 2017 with the rescue of failing rival Banco Popular for a nominal sum. Most acquired businesses have adopted the unified Santander brand, though a few others remain; not least Popular and digital service Openbank, now the largest online bank in Europe. Emilio Botin was the architect of the modern group, as well as a descendant of one of families which founded the original Banco Santander in the 19th century to trade with Latin America. He remained chairman until his death in 2014. His daughter Ana Patricia Botin is executive chairman. In 2018, Santander announced the appointment of investment banker Andrea Orcel as its new CEO from 2019, only to cancel the appointment a few months later because of the cost of buying out his contract from previous employer UBS. As a result, Jose Antonio Alvarez remains in that role. (A legal battle brought by Orcel for breach of contract is ongoing). Gross income hit a new high of €49.2bn, before slipping back in 2020 to €44.3bn. A net profit of €6.5bn in 2019 was followed by a net loss for 2020 of €8.8bn. More than 80% of revenues were generated by traditional retail banking. South America contributed over a third of total income and more than half of pretax profits. Brazil alone accounted for around 27% of revenues, and 30% of attributable profit. Europe was even bigger at 44% of total income, led by Spain (17%), and the UK (11%). The US added almost 19% of income. Total assets at the end of 2020 were €1.51 trillion. See also Santander UK.
Capsule checked 15th July 2021
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Historical profile information for Santander
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Sep 2018: Santander announced the appointment of Italian banker Andrea Orcel as its new CEO, replacing Jose Antonio Alvarez, who becomes vice chairman beneath executive chairman and major shareholder Ana Botin. In his current role as head of UBS's investment banking division, Orcel has been a trusted advisor to the Botin family for 20 years. [Updated: Orcel's appointment was cancelled in Jan 2019 because of the unexpectedly high cost of reimbursing him for deferred pay earned as head of UBS's investment bank.]
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jan 2018: Ads of the Week: "Piggy". We love the new US campaign for Santander Bank, from Arnold Worldwide, which features some fabulous character design and animation for its central character, a lost piggy bank. It's interesting to contrast the bank's more adventurous marketing in the US and Spain from the rather run-of-the-mill approach it takes in the UK.
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Jun 2017: Ads of the Week "Beyond Money". There's a big dose of Black Mirror to this beautifully realised short story commissioned by Banco Santander from MRM/McCann and director Kike Maillo. Money isn't everything, even to a bank. The film delivered McCann's 4th Grand Prix to-date, this time in the new Entertainment category. Settle down in a comfortable chair and indulge yourself for 15 minutes.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Jun 2017: Banco Santander strengthened its position as Spain's biggest bank with the rescue of struggling rival Banco Popular for the nominal price of just 1 euro. Popular had already put itself up for auction, but most bidders were frightened off by the potential failure of the bank. Santander plans to raise €7bn in capital from its own shareholders to refinance Popular's balance sheet. The deal will significantly boost Santander's profile among small and medium sized businesses, an area where Popular is considered to be especially strong.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Sep 2014: Two of Spain's most respected business leaders died this month, both aged 79. Isidoro Alvarez was responsible for establishing his uncle's department store group El Corte Ingles as the country's single most important retailer and its presiding cultural force over the second half of the 20th century (though its influence has been curbed since 2000 by more internationally focused rival Inditex). He remained chairman and controlling shareholder until his death this week. His successor as chairman has yet to be named. That followed the death a week earlier of Santander chairman Emilio Botin, who transformed a small regional lender into one of the world's biggest banks. He is succeeded as chairman by his daughter Ana Patricia Botin.
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