Santander Appoints Echenique To Lead Metrovacesa

7 May 2015 – Expansión

The Vice-President of the financial institution will take over the reins at the real estate company, after the bank increased its shareholding in the group, which has cut its debt in half in recent months.

A new President for a new era. That is the decision that has been taken by the four banks that own the real estate company Metrovacesa. Santander, BBVA, Sabadell, and Popular have decided to place the reins of the company in the hands of Rodrigo Echenique (pictured above), the Vice-President of the bank chaired by Ana Botín and President of the NH Hotel Group.

The appointment of Echenique as a non-executive director comes barely two weeks after the company held its annual shareholders’ meeting, which approved the appointment of four new directors, including Echenique. Abel Matutes and Juan Ignacio Ruiz de Alda also joined the management board, as representatives of Banco Santander, and Manuel Castro, from BBVA.

Rodrigo Echenique (Madrid, 1946) holds a degree in Law from the University of Complutense in Madrid and is a non-practising State Attorney. He has been CEO of Santander and is currently a member of the group’s board of directors and executive committees, as well as the Vice-President. Moreover, he is the President of the NH Hotel Group and a director of Inditex. He has also served as President of Vocento.

In his new role, Echenique replaces Ignacio Moreno, who will continue to perform executive duties as CEO, after less than three years as President. Meanwhile, Carlos García León, who served as CEO until now, will continue his duties as managing director.

Capital injection

The appointment of the new President comes just days after Metrovacesca’s shareholders approved the capitalisation of debt amounting to €751 million and five months after Santander acquired the 19% stake that Bankia owned in the real estate company.

Following the two operations, Santander has strengthened its position as the primary shareholder in Metrovacesa, which it first entered in 2011 along with five other entities; it currently owns 58.67% of the share capital. It is followed by BBVA with a 19.42% stake and Banco Sabadell, with 13.83%. In January, the three banks granted a loan to the real estate company amounting to €751 million to allow it to cancel tranche B of its syndicated loan early; in April this loan was capitalised. The other major shareholder, Banco Popular, did not participate in the transaction and holds 7.99% of the capital.

The capitalisation of this loan, together with the sale of its 26.9% stake in the French real estate company Gecina, has allowed Metrovacesa to significantly reduce its debt, down from a liability of €4,999 million in 2013 to net financial debt of €3,285 million at the end of 2014.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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