Santander to press on with UK IPO plans

City A.M. Reporter
Spanish lender Banco Santander will go ahead with plans to list its British unit, which grew during the global financial crisis chiefly through acquisitions, chairman Emilio Botin said yesterday.

A tentative timetable for the share sale could be during the first half of 2011, Botin said at a news conference in Sao Paulo. The largest Eurozone lender announced last week that its planned initial public offering of Santander UK could fetch about $4.8bn.

“For now we don’t have any other plans to list other subsidiaries,” Botin, accompanied by the chief executive of Santander’s Brazil unit, Fabio Barbosa said.

Botin’s remarks come after Wednesday’s unexpected departure of Antonio Horta-Osorio as head of Santander’s UK business. Horta-Osorio was seen by analysts as the banker who steered the consolidation of the Spanish lender’s acquisitions in this country.

The bank’s UK unit began after its purchase of Abbey National in 2004. Santander expanded over the past two years with the purchase of Alliance & Leicester and parts of Bradford & Bingley and Royal Bank of Scotland. Santander named Botin’s eldest daughter, Ana Botin, to replace Horta-Osorio later on Wednesday.

Emilio Botin added that his bank has no plans to expand in Asia through acquisitions or change the current structure of the bank’s China partnerships. He added that Santander plans “no big investments” in Asia.
In addition to positioning for an eventual recovery of the UK economy, Santander has also been ramping up lending in Latin America, where growth will likely be near the highest in three decades this year.