Bankia’s Alvarez: Saving the bank that didn’t exist

Eric Ellis
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When seven failing cajas were forced together, it was supposed to dampen their problems, not amplify them. Despite many doubts and hard decisions, Bankia’s chief executive Jose Sevilla Alvarez has been ambitious in restoring profitability and recovering the bank


Jose Sevilla Alvarez


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In early 2013, Jose Sevilla Alvarez, the then newly appointed chief executive of Spain’s Bankia, sat down with his chairman, the storied Spanish banker Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri, to have a critical conversation about where Bankia was going. 

Outside, the atmosphere in Spain was as toxic as the rancid bank they were tasked with fixing. 

The country’s financial crisis that had begun in 2008 seemed unending, and at 27% – 50% for under-25s – Spain was besieged by the social and political consequences of Europe’s highest unemployment levels.

In occupied streets and plazas across the country, Spain’s 'indignado’ movement was venting national disgust at their broken nation. Politicians and bankers, in Spain often the same thing, were responsible for the mess, they protested, and were nothing more than 'criminales’ and 'corruptos.’ 

Sevilla and Goirigolzarri, long-time colleagues at...