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Is Paulo Macedo the man with the plan for Caixa?

Macedo might seem like an odd choice to lead Portugal’s biggest bank, but the former health minister comes with impressive cost-cutting credentials.

Paulo Macedo, CEO of Caixa Geral de Depósitos

When you’ve taken the scalpel to the national health care budget during the worst economic crisis in living memory, doing the same to a bloated state-owned bank might look like child’s play. That, at least, is what the Portuguese government was hoping when it appointed Paulo Macedo as the new CEO of Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD), the state-owned bank that has not made a net profit since 2010.

A former board member at Millennium BCP, 53-year-old Macedo served as Portugal’s minister of health from 2011 to 2015; under his watch health spending contracted dramatically. Public expenditure on pharmaceuticals was down by 9% in 2011 alone, according to OECD numbers, with per capita health spending falling by close to 11.5% between 2010 and 2013

Macedo is proud of the delicate balancing act he achieved at the ministry, recalling that health indicators across the board continued to improve at a time of reduced margins on pharmaceuticals and medicines.

If Macedo succeeds at Caixa, it will represent a spectacular turnaround for a bank with a proud 140-plus year history, but with a business model and a corporate culture that appears to be approaching – if it is not already past – its sell-by date. 

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