The board of directors of Banco Santander today determined to ensure the bank has as much flexibility as possible to allow it to maximize lending and support businesses and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
While noting the bank meets the capital requirements to maintain its current dividend policy (i.e. a 40-50% payout ratio) and is comfortable with its capital buffers over regulatory requirements, the board committed to review the dividend paid from 2020 earnings in order to direct resources to support people and businesses in need. As a result, the board has agreed to consolidate any dividend from 2020 earnings into a single final proposed dividend, to be submitted to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) for approval in 2021, once the full impact of the pandemic is known. This means there will not be an interim dividend payment in November 2020.
To support the global effort to fight the pandemic, Santander has created a fund to provide essential equipment and materials. The fund will be financed through a reduction in senior management, board compensation and voluntary contributions from Santander employees, and is initially expected to be worth at least €25 million. Contributions will be deployed in areas that require immediate attention, including the production and purchase of medical equipment, protective clothing and other necessary supplies to treat people affected by the virus, as well as donations made to relevant entities and authorities.
Santander’s executive chairman, Ana Botín, and CEO, José Antonio Álvarez Santander’s executive chairman, Ana Botín, and CEO, José Antonio Álvarez
Santander’s executive chairman, Ana Botín, and CEO, José Antonio Álvarez, have decided to forgo 50% of their total compensation (salary and bonus) for 2020 and non-executive directors will have their compensation reduced by 20%. The group remuneration committee and respective country heads will propose how to translate this commitment to the management teams in the various countries in due course. The group’s bonus policy will be reviewed so that the maximum required resources are directed to supporting customers.
Santander’s Group executive chairman, Ana Botín, said: “For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic is the single most significant challenge we have ever faced. 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. We are committed to ensuring that Santander plays its part.”
Santander has already taken a number of steps to protect and support employees and customers, including: providing emergency liquidity for businesses facing hardship; facilitiating payment holidays in many of our markets; closing some branches to protect customers while also ensuring continuity of service across the whole branch network; protecting the wellbeing of employees through suspending travel and enabling home working, and requiring shareholders to participate virtually in its AGM next month. As the pandemic evolves in each of markets the bank is reviewing the situation everyday and acting in accordance with local needs in each of its markets.