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BBVA: Leaving party

As Carlos Torres Vila and Onur Genc take over, BBVA’s markets may still surprise more than its strategy.

BBVA is going through a monumental shift as 2019 begins, with the departure of the man who has led the bank for almost 20 years, Francisco González Rodríguez. The former executive chair announced he would step down in late September to make way for Carlos Torres Vila, chief executive since 2015. Onur Genc, head of BBVA’s US operation, will become chief executive.

González has led the bank since the 1999 merger between Banco Bilbao Vizcaya and former state-owned bank Argentaria, of which he had been president from 1996. He strengthened BBVA’s global retail strategy, most importantly with the $10 billion acquisition of Compass Bancshares in the US in 2007 and more recently by becoming the biggest shareholder in Istanbul-listed Garanti, Turkey’s second biggest private bank, whose numbers it now consolidates and of which it owns just short of a majority.

Last year, 2018, Turkey was investors’ biggest cause for concern at BBVA when the lira lost about a third of its value in the summer.

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