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The masks stay on as Ana Botín and Andrea Orcel face off in court.

Court hearing over Santander's withdrawn job offer to Orcel, in Madrid
Source: Juan Medina/Reuters

In the end it was less showdown and more damp squib. Santander executive chair Ana Botín and UniCredit chief executive Andrea Orcel finally made it to a Madrid court on May 19 to thrash out their dispute over the compensation that Orcel says he is owed for Santander not hiring him to be the Spanish bank’s chief executive in 2019.

Orcel, passport in hand, might have been forgiven for thinking he was at an airport, as he began to march towards the court’s fast-track Entrada Profesionales only to be pointed back towards the makeshift public check-in desk outside.

Once inside, Covid masks conveniently hid the facial expressions of the protagonists.

On September 25, 2018, as it announced its plans to hire Orcel, Santander had tweeted a promotional clip of the two in a happier meeting, with the now-obligatory happy-strum guitar accompaniment – but it is fair to assume that these two old friends are no longer on smiling terms. Four empty chairs separated the pair as they sat facing judge Javier Sánchez Beltrán of Madrid’s Court of First Instance Number 46.

Botín said that the letter Santander had issued to Orcel did not constitute a contract

Orcel had originally been looking for compensation of up to €112 million, but media reports citing court documents said he had reduced this to €77 million just before the hearing.

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