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Santander ousts CEO as Ana Botin makes her mark

CEO of Santander UK Plc Ana Patricia BotinCEO of Santander UK Plc Ana Patricia Botin
Ana Botin took over as chairwoman of Santander after the death of her father Emilio, the bank's patriarch.Photograph by Simon Dawson — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Banco Santander SA (SAN), Spain’s largest banking group, ousted its CEO and appointed its finance chief to replace him in Ana Botin‘s first big move as chairwoman since taking over after the death of her father, Emilio.

The bank said in a statement that Jose Antonio Alvarez, who has been CFO for the last 10 years, will take over from Javier Marin, who was appointed only two years ago by Botin’s father. In addition, it appointed three new independent non-executive directors, in what appears an attempt to broaden the oversight of a bank that has traditionally been dominated by a tight circle with links to its origins in northern Spain.

Bruce Carnegie-Brown, a JP Morgan Chase & Co veteran who is now chairman of insurance giant Aon’s U.K. business and the price-comparison website , will join Santander as the lead independent director on the board, along with Banco Sabadell board member Ms. Sol Daurella and Carlos Fernandez Gonzalez, who was previously in the top management of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo.

The appointments mean that Santander will now have five women and a total of nine independent directors on its 15-strong board, many with experience of key non-Spanish markets such as the U.K. and Mexico.

Jose Garcia Cantera, a former banking analyst with Citigroup and CEO of mid-sized Spanish lender Banesto SA, will take over as chief financial officer.