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Setting the benchmark in corporate integrity

Bankia to strengthen its corporate governance

The Spanish lender has outlined its intentions for improving corporate governance to somewhat confidence

The Spanish lender has outlined its intentions for improving corporate governance to somewhat confidence

The Spanish banking conglomerate, Bankia has agreed upon a series of measures to better its corporate governance structure. The changes, when enforced, are intended to improve Bankia’s practices to match the equivalent of advanced international standards.

The Appointments and Remuneration Committee has proposed the introduction of a lead director role, principally intended to counterbalance both the chairman and CEO positions, both of which are occupied by the same individual. The lead director is to channel the concerns of independent directors and is permitted to call Board meetings in voicing issues of especial significance. The position is to span a three-year term, though depending on performance could be reinstated at the end of the term.

The board of directors are to be subjected to stricter oversight policies, with an independent expert set to assess the state of operations, beginning 2013 with global executive search firm Egon Zehnder. The board of directors was entirely renewed in May 2012 and currently comprises ten individuals; down from 18 previously, two of which are executive directors, chairman José Ignacio Goirigolzarri and General Director of the Chairman’s Office, José Sevilla.

Whereas Deloitte has, for over a decade, audited the accounts of the main savings banks and its parent company, Banco Financiero y de Ahorros (BFA). Ernst & Young is anticipated to become the new audit firm for the next three years, following discussions at the upcoming General Shareholders’ Meeting. The change is to align with International and Spanish guidelines recommending that audit firms are rotated on a regular basis.

Bankia was formed of seven savings banks in 2010, in effect becoming a nationalised giant, though the conglomerate, since having listed 22 months ago, has lost 99 percent of its stock exchange value. Maricarmen Olivares, whose parents lost €600,000 in part due to Bankia’s continued downfall, told Reuters: “Everything is a swindle, the share listing, the compensation package, the value of stock now.” The new corporate governance measures are therefore intended to somewhat restore a much-needed confidence in an institution to have seriously buckled under the weight of continued financial crises.

 

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