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Spain: the power and reach of the bankers

Any move to fix Spain’s economy will necessarily involve curtailing the influence of bankers, those well-heeled types who speculated big on the housing market that then went bust, bringing the economy down with it, and which continues to drain extraordinary amounts of public money paid for by ordinary citizens.

Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be easy. The tentacles of the banking sector spread far and wide across the Spanish economy: oil; real estate; construction; tourism;  food; telecommunications; media; and fashion. The banks have a hold over many of the biggest Spanish companies, and/or their top executives sit on these companies’ boards.

The Spanish Banking and Insurance Consumers Association, ADICAE, looked at corporate governance reports, annual reports and other official sources of information on the listed holdings of, and roles of the directors of Spain’s banks as of the end of 2011. (The research did not encompass stakes and directorships   in companies that are privately held).

Here’s some (but by no means all) of the findings:

Santander, Spain’s largest bank. It owns:

89.9% of  Banesto, one Spain’s largest banks

34.9% of Metrovacesa, one of Spain’s largest property developers

Its directors:

Asúa Fernando Alvarez: Vice President (External) of Tecnicas Reunidas, a multi-billion euro turnover oil sector engineering company with customers that include the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Environment or Spanish airport operator AENA, among other clients.

Matías Rodríguez Inciarte: External director of Financiera Ponferrada, a SICAV, that is a fund that invests in financial assets whose profits are taxed only 1%. This company has been fined by stock market regulator CNMV for at least one ‘very serious’ offence.  Inciarte is also director of Sanitas, a private health insurer (perhaps a beneficiary of the government’s massive health budget cuts).

Manuel Soto Serrano: External Director of Cartera Industrial, a holding company that invests in and develops firms in various industrial, commercial and service sectors, including health, paper and water .

Guillermo de la Dehesa Romero: External director of Campofrío (food), Amadeus IT Holding (€2.8 billion turnover company operating in the tourist sector) and non-executive chairman of Aviva Vida and Pension SA, specialists in life insurance, savings insurance,  unit linked / investment funds and pension plans, health insurance (the latter two likely beneficiaries of cuts to public spending)

Francisco Luzon Lopez: External director of Inditex, one of world’s leading fashion retailers.

Javier Botin Sanz de Sautuola and O’Shea. CEO of JB Capital Markets, an equities/bond broker

Lord Burns: Non-Executive Chairman of Channel Four Television Corporation, a private television channel in the UK.

BBVA, Spain’s second largest bank:

It controls part, or has interests in a Spain’s largest telecommunications company (Telefonica), one of Spain’s largest real estate developers (Metrovacesa), a company working with the petrochemical sector among other sectors, security companies, cleaning firms, a temporary work agency and an international biotechnology company.

Its directors:

Juan Carlos Alvarez Mezquiriz. Director of  Grupo EULEN, a security, cleaning and temporary work agency

Ignacio Ferrero Jordi. Group CEO of Nutrexpa y La Piara (food), Chairman of Aneto Natural (food).

Garijo Belén López. Director of Merck Serono, a large Swiss-based biotechnology multinational.

CaixaBank,  Spain’s fourth biggest bank:

It has large stakes in Spain’s biggest oil company Repsol YPF (13%) , Spain’s biggest integrated gas and electricity company Gas Natural, Spain’s largest telecoms company, Telefónica (5%), and the world’s largest toll-road operator, Abertis

Its directors:

Isidre Fainé (CaixaBank President): Vice president of Telefónica, first vice president of Abertis Infrastructuras, second vice president of Repsol YPF.

Juan Maria Nin Genova. Director of Repsol YPF and Gas Natural

Alain Minc. Director of Grupo PRISA, the largest media group and publisher in Spain (including El Pais, Cadena SER, Santillana, Alfaguara, Cinco Dias, Le Monde, Canal +) …

Jorge Mercader Miró. President of Grupo Miquel y Costas, a pulp and paper company

John Rossell Lastortras. Director of Gas Natural.

Leopoldo Rodes Castañé. Director of Abertis Infrastructures.

Gabarró Salvador. President of Gas Natural.

ADICAE found that of the top 35 quoted companies in Spain (IBEX35 stock market index), 18 were either banks or companies in which banks owned shares, namely: Abertis, Acciona, Acerinox, Amadeus, Banco Popular, Banco Sabadell, Banco Santander, BBVA, Bolsas y Mercados Españoles, CaixaBank, Enagas, Ferrovial, Gas Natural, Inditex, Mediaset, Repsol, Técnicas Reunidas and Telefónica.

That’s a lot of power and reach for Spain’s banksters. It may be no more nor less than elsewhere, in Europe or the USA at least. But the fact remains that it will take a lot of collective will to challenge and reverse.

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