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OPINION

Orcel’s legal victory raises heat on Santander

Executive chairman Ana Botín will be under pressure after adverse ruling in Madrid

Ana Botin

Andrea Orcel’s legal victory against Banco Santander over his aborted appointment as chief executive three years ago may be less important to the Italian banker than to Santander executive chairman Ana Botín.

After a long-running legal battle, a court has ordered Santander to pay Orcel €67.8 million. It said the bank had unilaterally broken what it deemed a binding contract. The payment therefore covers payments due under that contract, plus interest, as well as €10 million in damages.

Although the decision is subject to appeal, it goes without saying that this tops a good week for Orcel. On Thursday, his first investor day as CEO of UniCredit triggered a rise in the Italian bank’s share price of more than 10%.

Orcel can put that performance partly down to good timing, as UniCredit’s capital – largely thanks to assets sales by his predecessor Jean Pierre Mustier – allows a big step up in shareholder distributions, of as much as 65% of market capitalization.

Orcel is already extremely wealth, so the court ruling will also be relevant in terms of the perceived reputational hit.

Pressure

Beyond the financial cost to Santander, the ruling could also ramp up the pressure on Botín.


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