Banco Santander SA (SAN), Spain’s biggest bank, said Chairman Emilio Botin died at the age of 79.
He died of a heart attack in Madrid yesterday, a bank official said by phone. The board will meet today to discuss his successor, the Santander, Spain-based bank said in a regulatory filing.
Botin became chairman of Santander in 1986 and used acquisitions to extend the bank’s reach beyond Spain across to markets from Brazil and the U.K. to the U.S. and Poland. The bank’s market value today stands at 91.5 billion euros ($118 billion).
“This is unexpected and it’s a significant loss for Spanish banking,” Javier Diaz-Gimenez, a professor at the IESE business school, said in a telephone interview today. “Botin became a symbol of innovation, progress and leadership for transforming Santander from a small provincial lender into a global player and being at the forefront of the modernization of Spanish banking after the death of dictator Franco.”
The shares fell as much as 2.1 percent to 7.58 euros as of 9:35 a.m. in Madrid. The stock us up almost 17 percent this year, beating the Ibex 35 index’s 9.4 percent increase over the period.
Botin’s daughter, Ana Patricia Botin, 53, is chief executive officer of the bank’s British unit.