The European Commission has given the Santander Bank the green light to go ahead with its plans to buy Abbey National. In its decision released yesterday, the Commissión said the operation was legal from the point of view of fair competition and that since each bank would continue to serve its national market “operations will never, or almost never, be carried out by both banks in the same geographical area”.
Meanwhile the HBOS has withdrawn its counter offer, and the Santander Bank announced yesterday that it hoped to sign the final deal on 12th November.
The purchase of Abbey National by the Santander Bank could turn out to be the best thing that has happened to Abbey in years (as well as being good news for British people who bank with Abbey and own property in Spain). Emilio Botin, Chairman of the Spanish bank, is one of the most successful bankers Spain has ever known, and his career has been marked by a series of brilliant acquisitions and operations.
When he took over from his father leadership of the bank which was originally founded by his grandfather, Santander was Spain’s sixth most important bank. Today it is the not only Spain’s biggest bank, but also the most important bank in Latin America.
In the past Botin has surprised financial analysts by purchasing big banks with financial and operative problems, for example Banesto in Spain or Banespa in Brazil. But he has succeeded, where many bankers would have failed, to turn downsliding banks into efficient, profitable financial institutions, and this is where one of his great strengths lies. The Santander Bank have achieved in Latin America, with purchases and alliances, what many US banks have failed, and it is only natural that its directors look towards Europe to open new markets.