Ana Botín has been appointed to lead Banco Santander after her father, Emilio Botín, died of a heart attack last night. The move makes her arguably Europe's most powerful female banker.
Following a meeting of its appointments and remuneration committee the bank announced this afternoon that Ana, who is currently chief executive of its UK arm, had been "unanimously" chosen follow in the footsteps of her father, grandfather and great-grandfather as chairman. The Botín family has a small but significant two per cent stake in the bank.
The committee said Ana was "the most appropriate person, given her personal and professional qualities, experience, track record in the group and her unanimous recognition both in Spain and internationally".
Shares in the bank fell two per cent in early trading following the news that 79-year-old Emilio, who oversaw its transformation from parochial Spanish lender to one of the top 20 banks in the world, had died, but rose slightly to close down 0.65 per cent.
Although analysts aren't entirely enamoured of the bank's hereditary succession plan, Ana is seen as a natural successor to her father: US-educated, she spent seven years at JPMorgan before joining Santander in 1988.
Her appointment will raise questions about who will succeed her as UK chief executive.
Nathan Bostock, her deputy, is likely to be high on the list. Having left his job as the bank's UK chief financial officer, he joined RBS last October, only to resign 10 weeks into the job to become Santander UK's deputy chief executive.
Despite it being a "difficult time" for her and her family, Ana said she was "fully committed" to her new responsibilities.
f directors and I am fully committed to my new responsibilities. I have been working at Grupo Santander in different countries and with different responsibilities for many years and I have experienced the professionalism and dedication of our teams. We'll continue to dedicate all our efforts with total determination to keep building a better bank for our customers, employees and shareholders."