Sunday, October 17

The challenges of Sabadell’s new strongman: digitization and profitability

Jaume Guardiola, Josep Oliu and César González-Bueno, yesterday.

Jaume Guardiola, Josep Oliu and César González-Bueno, yesterday.

There were no surprises and the board of directors of the Sabadell yesterday approved the appointment of César González-Bueno as the new CEO of the entity, replacing Jaume Guardiola, who will go into retirement once the authorities approve the change, and will only retain the position of president of the bank’s subsidiary in Mexico. However, the changes in the entity go far beyond the apparent, since the new chief executive of the bank based in Alicante he will accumulate much more power than his predecessor and will become the true strongman of the same, before the step backwards that Josep Oliu will take, who will give up a good part of his current powers to carry out a non-executive presidency.

Thus, Sabadell himself stressed yesterday that González-Bueno will participate “from the first moment in the design and implementation of a new strategic plan”, which the entity plans to present in the first quarter of next year and which must guarantee viability of the bank alone, after the fiasco of the merger with BBVA, which has precipitated the changes, despite the fact that the entity indicated that they were already planned.

In any case, the bank also made clear the roadmap to be followed by its new CEO, which is to improve the efficiency of the group and accelerate its digital transformation, with the ultimate goal of increasing its profitability, the true vault key to guarantee the future of the business. Along the way, he will have to get rid of the British subsidiary TSB – of which he is currently a director – and look for an international alliance, which will contribute to solidify the project.

With more than 23 years of experience in the sector and after having been the architect of the launch and consolidation of ING in Spain or the creation of Evo Banco, Oliu himself highlighted “the ideal profile” of his new executive. “I am convinced that it will contribute decisively to boost the group’s digital offer,” said the Catalan, who also had words of thanks for the outgoing director. Thus, he attributed to Guardiola “a fundamental role as the architect of the growth and consolidation of the bank”, which has become the fourth largest entity in the country after absorbing numerous competitors, including CAM.

Agreed with the ECB

The incorporation of González-Bueno will coincide with a change in the entity’s corporate governance structure, which will enhance its figure to the detriment of Oliu’s. Some changes that, according to the sources consulted, had been agreed with the ECB since the end of 2019 with the aim of adapting the bank’s governance to the model advocated by the supervisor, who prefers to separate the executive functions of the presidency of the board, to reserve the latter last charge a more institutional role.

Thus, Oliu had already taken steps in this direction by leaving the financial management in the hands of Guardiola or by placing former secretary of state David Vegara at the head of the risk commission and making it depend directly on the board, without going through his person. At the same time, the Catalan banker had focused on the general secretariat, corporate governance or communication, a move that was even reflected physically when these departments moved from Barcelona to Madrid. Now the president will continue with this process until he completely surrenders all his executive powers, which will leave broad powers to the new CEO to set the new direction of the entity.

The manager relies on the bank’s customer base to grow

The new CEO of Sabadell was confident yesterday of the entity’s potential and pointed out that “it has a first-line franchise and a customer base to grow and face the future successfully.” Likewise, he stated that the bank “is already immersed in the process of adapting its business model and will be highly competitive in an environment that is transforming at high speed.” For his part, Jaume Guardiola indicated his “satisfaction” for the 13 years he has been in the entity, but stressed that “the project must continue to advance” and offered all his collaboration to his successor.

A branch of the Sabadell. | PILAR CORTÉS

The bank will have to return a million to a client

The Supreme Court considers that the entity did not duly report the risks of a product

The Supreme Court has ratified the conviction against Banco Sabadell that obliges the entity to return to a client in damages and losses more than one million euros paid as a result of negative settlements caused by a mortgage swap subscribed in the 2008. The judgment reaffirms the previous assessment of the Court of First Instance number 2 of Sabadell and of the Provincial Court of Barcelona when considering that, despite being a “purely speculative” product, the information of its nature offered by the entity was so deficient that it made the client “believe that she had been offered and was underwriting a hedge for the rise in interest rates, linked to financing through loans granted by the entity itself, in her capacity as client habitual, and because of the relationship of trust with the employees, and not an interest rate swap operation ”. The swap offered by Sabadell to its client was linked to the subscription of five mortgage loans requested to cover the payment of inheritance tax generated by an inheritance.

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