William Vereker, the former business envoy of ex-prime minister Theresa May, has been appointed chairman of Santander UK, as its Spanish parent prepares a transformation plan to turn round performance at its UK arm.
Mr Vereker will join the bank’s board on October 1 and take over from incumbent chair Shriti Vadera the following month. His planned appointment was first reported by the Financial Times in June.
Ana Botín, Santander’s group chair and former chief of the UK unit, said in a statement that Mr Vereker “will be a real asset to Santander UK over the coming years as we embark on our ambitious transformation programme”.
Last week Santander wrote off 85 per cent of the UK’s division’s goodwill value, driving the 163-year-old bank to its first-ever loss. Santander built the UK’s fifth-largest bank through a series of acquisitions in the 2000s, but it has struggled recently in the face of rising competition and regulatory costs.
The group is hoping to turn round performance as part of a wider overhaul of its European businesses, which will involve integrating Santander UK more closely with its banks in Spain, Portugal and Poland.
Mr Vereker is one of several recent senior hires designed to support the transformation project, along with its new head of Europe, former HSBC executive António Simões, deputy UK chief Tony Prestedge and senior adviser Sebastian Gunningham.
Mr Vereker is currently vice-chairman of investment banking for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at JPMorgan, which he joined less than six months ago. He previously worked at banks including Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and UBS.
He was appointed Mrs May’s business envoy in September 2018 and tasked with improving relations between the Conservative government and the City of London amid tensions caused by Brexit. However, he lost the position when Mrs May was replaced by Boris Johnson.
Mr Vereker said: “The current crisis has underlined the vital role that banks play in society . . . I am excited by the potential for Santander to transform UK banking for the better with new thinking and a determination to provide customers with a service that is second to none.”
Santander UK’s current chair, Lady Vadera, joined the board of insurance group Prudential in May and is due to take over as its chair in January.
Ms Botín said Lady Vadera “guided the bank through a period of transformation and has driven important cultural change, building on our record as a scale challenger in British banking”.
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