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BBVA loses two heads in one day

Emilio Ybarra

The departure of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria's co-chairman Emilio Ybarra was half expected. But the resignation of CEO and vice-chairman Pedro Luis Uriarte, announced on the same day, shocked the market.

Ybarra was due to retire in March anyway two and a half years on from the merger of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBV) and Argentaria. He said integration was completed early and with great success and that although during a merger co-chairmanship made sense "there is no longer any reason for the existence of two chairmen".

The charismatic Uriarte is widely admired. He started at BBV in 1973, was appointed CEO in 1994 and managed BBVA through the merger to produce one of Europe's largest and most profitable banks.

Sources close to the bank say Uriarte had differences with Fransisco González, now BBVA's sole chairman. González was named chairman of Argentaria in 1996 with a government mandate to privatize the bank.

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