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Santander bosses take 50% pay cut to fund Covid-19 fight

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 29: Banco Santander Chairman, Ana Patricia Botin, speaks during a news conference to announce the 2019 results at the bank's headquarters on January 29, 2020 in Boadilla del Monte, near Madrid, Spain. Banco Santander's net profit was 6.5 billion euros in 2019, an 17% decrease on the previous year. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
Banco Santander chairman Ana Botin speaks during a news conference on January 29, 2020 in Boadilla del Monte, near Madrid, Spain. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

The chief executive and chair of Spanish bank Santander (SAN) are taking voluntary pay cuts and diverting the money to fight Covid-19.

Santander said executive chair Ana Botín and chief executive officer José Antonio Alvarez would both reduce their total compensation for 2020 by 50%.

Botín earned €10m in salary and bonuses last year, while Alvarez made €8.2m.

Non-executive directors at the bank will also reduce their earnings by 20% and the cash saved through the pay cuts will be diverted to a new fund to fight novel coronavirus. Santander said the fund, which will also be topped up by employee donations, should reach €25m.

The money will be used for the production and purchase of medical equipment and protective clothing, as well as to make donations to groups and organisations fighting Covid-19.

Read more: UK risks 'worst recession in modern history'

“The scale of the task before us demands a huge collective effort, with governments, central banks and other authorities, the private sector, charities and individuals, working together to limit the spread and provide care for those affected – whether directly or indirectly,” Botín said in a statement.

“We are committed to ensuring that Santander plays its part.”

Santander is the largest bank in Spain, which is facing one of Europe’s worst outbreaks of Covid-19. Almost 40,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the country, making it the nation with the fourth highest number of confirmed cases in the world. More than 500 people have died as a result of the virus in just the last 24 hours, authorities said on Tuesday.

As well as announcing changes to executive pay, Santander said it would also delay a dividend payout until 2021 “in order to direct resources to support people and businesses in need”.

In the UK, Santander has reduced opening hours and closed somme branches in a bid to protect staff. 5,600 employees are currently working from home.