Santander Portugal boss replaces compatriot as group’s head of Europe

  • Lusa
  • 15 June 2023

The Portuguese banker Pedro Castro e Almeida joined Santander Portugal in 1993 and has served as its CEO for the last five years.

The chief executive of Santander Portugal, Pedro Castro e Almeida, is to take over as leader of the Spain-based banking group’s business in Europe, replacing António Simões, Santander said on Thursday, announcing the substitution of one banker from Portugal with another.

In a statement, Santander said that Simões, who will remain in the post until 1 September “to ensure a smooth transition,” is to leave the bank to take on a new role as CEO of Legal & General Group plc.

According to the statement, Santander Portugal, under the leadership of Pedro Castro e Almeida – who is to remain as its CEO – “has become the most efficient and profitable bank in the country.”

From September with responsibility for the banking group’s business in Europe (including banks in Spain, the UK, Poland and Portugal), Castro e Almeida is to report to the group CEO in Madrid, Héctor Grisi, while the executive directors in Spain, the UK and Poland are to report directly to Castro e Almeida.

The Portuguese banker joined Santander Portugal in 1993 and has served as its CEO for the last five years.

During that period, the statement says, the business “has undergone a major transformation, including the simplification and automation of operational tasks.” Before becoming the chief executive of Santander Portugal, he was an executive director of for over a decade, leading several different areas of the bank.

Simões, meanwhile, joined Santander in 2020, serving as both CEO for Spain and head of the Europe region, and playing what the statement describes as “a key role” in the transformation of the group’s business in Europe. Under his leadership, it states, the bank “has made significant progress in integrating its businesses across the region and building One Santander.”

All of this, it goes, “has resulted in an increase in after-tax results in Europe from €1.1 billion in 2020 to €3.8 billion in 2022, [and] an excellent first quarter this year, with profits up 19% year-on-year.

“Profitability increased from 3% RoTE [Return on Tangible Equity] in 2020 to 13% in the first quarter of 2023, underpinned by business growth that boosted the customer base by 1 million in the last 12 months,” the group statement highlights.

Ana Botín, the executive chairman of Banco Santander, has already congratulated Castro e Almeida on his new appointment and thanked Simões for his contribution to the group.

“Pedro has done an excellent job in leading Santander Portugal, positioning the bank as a leader in customer satisfaction, efficiency and profitability and a transformational model to follow,” she said.

Quoted in the statement, Castro e Almeida expressed his delight at the opportunity to lead the business in Europe, saying: “We have made tremendous progress in building One Santander in the region and have an exceptional team on the ground.

“We will continue to work focused on a new phase of value creation to achieve the objectives set out this year at Investor Day,” he added.