Emilio Botín, the best banker of his generation, dies

By:
Clive Horwood
Published on:

Botín, the chairman of Santander, was a once-in-a-generation banker, who not only transformed Santander but stood out for his love of an industry in which he made his fortune.


Euromoney was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Emilio Botín, chairman of Santander, on Wednesday.

Through his energy, force of will, sharp intellect and uncanny eye for a great deal, Botín transformed Santander over the course of several decades from a small, Spanish bank into one of the world’s leading financial institutions.

The bank he leaves behind is not just a leader in Spain, but in large swaths of Latin America, notably in the key markets of Brazil and Mexico, and is one of the top institutions in banking in the UK and Poland as well as consumer finance in Mexico.

Botín not only steered Santander through the worst of the financial crisis: he was one of very few bank chiefs to take advantage of it and make his institution stronger.

All of these achievements mark Botín down as one of the best, if not the finest, banker of the past 30 years.

Santander’s success story, and the role that Botín played in it, has been chronicled extensively by Euromoney. During the past decade, Santander has been named Euromoney’s Best Global Bank on three occasions, in 2005, 2008 and 2012, more than any other firm.

The articles and interviews around those awards form a fitting tribute to a great banker, which we invite you to read here:

Santander: The masters of retail banking 
Santander is one of the most remarkable stories in modern banking. Even the group's highly-ambitious chairman, Emilio Botín, is amazed at how the bank has grown from a small Spanish domestic bank to a place in the global top 10 in just 20 years. He reveals the strategy that has made Santander what it is today.
 
And for his next trick… Botín weaves his magic at Santander
Alliance & Leicester is the latest rabbit that Emilio Botín has pulled out of his hat as Santander continues its inexorable rise. Botín has now cemented his reputation for being a dealmaker as well as one of the most talented retail bankers in history. What else does he have up his sleeve? 
 
Best Bank 2012: Santander storms through the Spanish crisis
All Spanish banks have been dragged down by their home country’s financial crisis. In Santander’s case, it’s not by nearly as much as you probably think. The bank’s diversified geographic mix has enabled it to continue to generate exceptional earnings. Its model of subsidiaries has been shown to work. Isn’t it about time the markets saw through the clouds of crisis and realized what Santander actually is?
 

When Santander won the Euromoney Best Global Bank award in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, Botín gave an acceptance speech which channelled Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’, and eloquently summed up his own attitude to how to be successful and – just as important then as now – how to avoid failure in banking.

He said: “If you don’t understand an instrument, don’t buy it. If you would not buy a specific product for yourself, don’t sell it. I you don’t know your customers very well, don’t lend them any money. If you do all these things, you will be a better banker my son.”

Our thoughts are with Emilio’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.