Banco Santander announces new CEO: Héctor Grisi

Rick Steves

“He brings a relentless focus on the customer, proven leadership in driving transformation and greater connectivity across the group, and a strong track record of delivering growth and profitability.”

Banco Santander has promoted Héctor Blas Grisi Checa, currently CEO of Santander Mexico and head of North America, to Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a group director, effective 1 January 2023.

Héctor Grisi will be responsible for managing all the group’s regions, countries and global businesses and will succeed José Antonio Álvarez, who will remain on the Board as non-executive vice-chair.

Having joined Santander in 2015 as CEO of Santander Mexico, Grisi helped the bank achieve an adjusted return on tangible equity of 31% as at 31 March 2022, growing the number of active customers by nearly 50% to close to 10 million and doubling the number of loyal customers,
while establishing leading market position in SMEs, Mid-Market Corps, Mortgages and Project Finance.

He combined the Mexico CEO role with Head of the Santander group’s North America region since 2019, where he covered both Mexico and the United States, the latter of which achieved a record year for profitability, generating $2.7 billion in 2021 compared to $648 million in 2018,
making the largest contribution to profit of any market in the group.

Prior to Santander, he spent 18 years at Credit Suisse, where he held a range of senior positions, including head of Investment Banking for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, then President & CEO of Credit Suisse Mexico.

Héctor Grisi will lead the bank with Executive Chair Ana Botín

Bruce Carnegie Brown, Lead Independent Director and chair of the Board Nomination Committee, said: “The Nominations Committee has worked intensively to identify and assess a broad range of internal and external candidates for the CEO role, with the support of external advisors. Héctor Grisi is a seasoned expert who knows our business and is the right person to lead the bank with Ana. He brings a relentless focus on the customer, proven leadership in driving transformation and greater connectivity across the group, and a strong track record of delivering growth and profitability.

“On behalf of the Nominations Committee, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to José Antonio for his outstanding contribution to the group. During his tenure, the bank has increased the number of customers it serves by nearly 40 million, while driving significant improvements across key performance metrics and transforming its capital strength. We look forward to continuing to benefit from his experience and expertise on the board.”

Ana Botín, Executive Chair of Banco Santander, commented: “I am extremely grateful to José Antonio for the exceptional contribution he has made to the bank over the past 20 years. His leadership and dedication have been central to Santander’s growth and success. I value his insight and support hugely and am delighted that he will remain on the Board as non-executive vice-chair and will continue to support the bank as we build on the progress of recent years.

José Antonio Alvaréz leaves the executive role after having increased the bank’s Return on Tangible Equity (RoTE) from 11% in 2014 to over 14% in the first quarter of 2022, while growing its CET1 FL capital from 8% to over 12%. Revenues increased by over 35% in constant euros over the same period, as the bank added nearly 40 million customers, taking the total number of people and businesses it serves to 155 million on 31 March 2022.

José Antonio Álvarez said, “It has been an honour to be part of the Santander team for the past two decades. Santander is a truly exceptional organisation, and I will always be grateful to the many colleagues and friends I have worked with. I feel extremely proud of what we have achieved together and am confident that under the leadership of Ana and Héctor the organisation will continue to go from strength to strength. I look forward to supporting Héctor in the transition and helping the group evolve and build on its success as non-executive vice chair of the board.”

Héctor Grisi, the upcoming CEO of Santander, said: “I would firstly like to thank José Antonio for what he has done for the bank throughout his career, and the support he has provided me since the first day I joined. I am honoured to succeed him as CEO of Banco Santander and be offered the opportunity to build on what he, Ana, and the team have achieved. I firmly believe that Santander’s scale, diversification, and customer focus create opportunities for growth that are difficult for others to replicate. I am excited to get to work and have no doubt that we have the strategy, model and above all, the team, to create value for all our stakeholders and fulfil our potential.

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