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from Breakingviews:

Botin’s swashbuckling hid a conservative streak

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Emilio Botin transformed Santander from regional Spanish lender into global giant. He was a merger mastermind who usually got the upper hand. With slicked-back hair and red tie, he flew in a private jet, conferring with presidents and prime ministers as easily as bankers and chief executives. Yet unlike many of his peers during European banking’s boom years, Botin also had a cautious streak. It is that, rather than his swashbuckling style, which allowed him to keep his grip on Santander until his death at the age of 79.

When he replaced his 83-year-old father as chairman in 1986, Spanish banking was still a sleepy industry. Botin innovated and consolidated, luring customers with high-interest current accounts while merging with domestic rivals. Yet he did more than ride a growth wave. He was early to spot the opportunity in South America, and identified the importance of information technology, keeping computer systems in-house even as rivals embraced outsourcing.

Europe’s single market gave him another chance to expand. Santander swallowed Britain’s Abbey in 2004, and spent the next few years sizing up potential partners. Rather than attempt a merger, however, Botin put together a breakup bid for ABN Amro, enabling him to cherry-pick the Dutch bank’s best assets. Santander’s two partners – Royal Bank of Scotland and Fortis of Belgium – collapsed and were nationalised. The Spanish bank emerged bigger and stronger than before.

from Breakingviews:

Santander loses a leader and gains an opportunity

By George Hay and Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Santander has lost its figurehead, but gained an opportunity. The death of Emilio Botin at the age of 79 means the euro zone’s biggest bank is no longer run by the euro zone’s most lauded banker. The share price fell 1.4 percent in response. But Santander now has a chance to take its corporate governance into the 21st century.

from Breakingviews:

Tesco should cut its dividend

By Robert Cole

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Shareholders ultimately lose out when too-high payouts prevent companies from responding well to problems. Right now, Tesco needs all the financial flexibility it can muster. Its current dividend is dangerously constricting.

from Breakingviews:

Hertz gears up for another financial spin

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Carl Icahn is just the latest financier to toy with Hertz Global. The activist investor reported an 8.5 percent stake on Wednesday, saying he planned to pressure the $14 billion car rental company over recent management stumbles. But Hertz has been an investor plaything for nearly a century. Automakers, an airline, a 1960s conglomerate, private equity and public investors have all owned the business.

from Breakingviews:

Ballmer’s exit value is now Nadella’s to preserve

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Steve Ballmer’s exit value is now Satya Nadella’s to preserve. Microsoft’s market capitalization swelled by over $100 billion from the day about a year ago when the 34-year veteran of the software giant said he would resign as chief executive until Tuesday, when he stepped down from the board of directors. With Ballmer fading from the picture, maintaining the momentum is now firmly up to new boss Nadella.

from Breakingviews:

Latest blunder hits StanChart where it most hurts

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Standard Chartered’s latest blunder hits the UK bank where it hurts most. New York State’s Department of Financial Services has slapped a $300 million fine on the emerging markets-focused lender for compliance lapses. It reinforces the disturbing impression that StanChart’s top brass aren’t on top of things.

from Breakingviews:

Holiday email embargo a must-have, not an opt-in

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Daimler wants to stop email ruining the holidays of its 275,000 employees. So the German carmaker is giving them the right to have all messages received during vacation automatically re-routed, with the sender warned to try again later. In this case, choice may not be the best policy.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Effective training a weak link in many compliance programs – survey

By Emmanuel Olaoye and Stuart Gittleman, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Aug. 13, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Firms, especially those in the financial services sector, have improved their compliance and ethics training programs but are still being challenged in measuring their programs' effectiveness, two researchers told Thomson Reuters Compliance Complete on Wednesday.

And the people driving the programs, often in chief compliance officer or roles of similar function, are still being challenged by limited resources and difficulties in making a business case for the firm's investment, said the researchers, Mary Bennett and Ingrid Freeden of Navex Global.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Internal Audit & the Four Cs: Culture, Conduct, Corporate Governance and Customer Outcomes

By Michael Cowan, Regulatory Intelligence Analyst, Thomson Reuters

NEW YORK, July 30, 2014 - Corporate governance and culture have moved into the mainstream as a result of the financial crisis, and as the global recovery takes hold, governments and regulators are keen to ensure lessons are learned. It is clear, however, that despite the increasing profile of corporate governance with regulators, shareholders and customers, and the effect it has on the health and reputation of firms, it is still an area in which many internal auditors lack a high level of involvement.

Thomson Reuters annual State of Internal Audit Survey, which was published in June, found that 49 percent of internal auditors had no involvement in assessing their firm’s culture, while just over a quarter of internal auditors have not assessed their firm’s corporate governance; regionally, this figure was most concerning for North America, with 32 percent of internal auditors having no involvement in assessing corporate governance. This figure dropped to 18 percent for European respondents, where regulators like the UK Financial Conduct Authority have honed in on the interrelated issues of corporate governance, customer outcomes and conflicts of interest and have stated that they will start assessing culture by looking at relevant areas of a firm’s business and behavior and drawing conclusions from there.

from Edward Hadas:

Not all banks are alike

By Edward Hadas

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Competition is fierce for the Bankers’ Bad Behaviour Award. Rate-rigging, client-fleecing, dishonest documentation, reckless trading and exorbitant pay were all widespread before the 2008 financial crisis, and faulty practices have proven remarkably persistent. It sounds like there is something wrong with all banks. The ethical problem, though, is not universal.

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