Santander to ditch brands

SPANISH banking titan Santander brought the curtain down on the Abbey, Alliance &amp; Leicester (A&amp;L) and Bradford &amp; Bingley (B&amp;B) brands yesterday, after a year in which it snapped up some of the UK&rsquo;s best-known lenders.<br /><br />Santander&rsquo;s name will hang above some 1,300 branches by the end of the integration process in 2010, or around 10 per cent of high street banking branches in the UK.<br /><br />Abbey, bought in 2004, and B&amp;B&rsquo;s savings business, purchased in 2008, will be the first to go, in January and March of next year respectively, with A&amp;L to follow in 2010.<br /><br />But the bank will look to introduce its name earlier, by rebranding Abbey credit cards and the corporate banking units of both Abbey and A&amp;L. <br /><br />UK chief executive Ant&oacute;nio Horta-Os&oacute;rio said the bank had established its brand in the UK through advertising and its sponsorship of British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.<br /><br />The rebranding exercise will cost &pound;12m, but the bank hopes to save &pound;180m by integrating the businesses.<br /><br />Horta-Os&oacute;rio said there would be no further branch closures or job cuts to add to the 1,900 jobs which the bank has already cut.<br /><br />The Spanish lender has emerged from the credit crunch as one of the world&rsquo;s strongest banks, amassing a profit of &pound;7.7bn in 2008.<br /><br /><strong>NAME: ANTONIO HORTA-OSORIO<br /><br />UK CHIEF</strong> <strong>EXECUTIVE</strong> <strong>OF SANTANDER</strong><br />HORTA-OSORIO graduated from Universidade Cat&oacute;lica Portuguesa in Management and Business Administration, later gaining an MBA from INSEAD and an AMP from Harvard Business School.<br /><br />He started his career at CitiBank Portugal where he was head of capital markets. At the same time, he was an assistant professor at Universidade Cat&oacute;lica Portuguesa.<br /><br />He went on to work for Goldman Sachs in New York and London, focusing on corporate finance activities in Portugal. In 1993, he joined Grupo Santander as chief executive of Banco Santander de Negocios Portugal.<br /><br />Having lived in London, New York, Sao Paulo and Paris, the keen scuba-diver now resides in Lisbon with his wife and three children.