The bank will make a bid for up to 25% of the Santander Mexico shares not under its control and held by minority shareholders. This was confirmed by Santander's Group executive chairman, Ana Botín, during a speech to the General Shareholders' Meeting, who also said: “We believe in Mexico and in the potential of its financial sector and of Santander Mexico, which is one of the country's leading banks."
The transaction will involve an exchange of shares for a total amount of €2.56 billion and will allow the bank to increase its position in a core market for the Group. In the first quarter of the year, Mexico contributed 8% of underlying attributable profit, with growth of 12% to €206 million.
At the meeting, shareholders were largely focused on this announcement, and the Group executive chairman also called for "a reformative agenda with a long-term vision that will drive inclusive growth and social cohesion" in Spain.
Ms Botín advocated a united, robust Europe that Spain can play a more active role in building. "Although Europe is not perfect, it is, by comparison, the best model for democracy, a model of an open and inclusive society and of a market economy," she said. “Building Europe is national policy. Europe is the solution, not the problem."
The General Shareholders' Meeting is the moment of the year when the board of directors reports to the owners of the bank – its shareholders – and it is the most important corporate event for a listed company. In the city of Santander, location of the company's historical headquarters, the Group executive chairman reminded shareholders that the bank has met all of the targets set out in its strategic plan in 2015 and she underlined that dividends per share have increased while the bank has managed to strengthen its capital base by €18 billion.
Commitment as a responsible bank
More and more shareholders, investors and analysts are empasisng the importance of non financial metrics. The market values and demands sustainable behaviour from companies, which goes beyond maximising shareholder value.
Santander's Group executive chairman emphasised this point in particular, reminding shareholders of the bank's progress as a responsible company in such areas as improving corporate governance, supporting higher education, diversity and volunteering.
In line with this commitment, Ms Botín took advantage of this event to add two new medium-term corporate goals. She announced that the bank will eliminate all single-use plastics from all of its buildings around the world by 2021 and will ensure that 60% of the electricity consumed by the Group comes from renewable sources, with the aim of reaching 100% by 2025 in all countries where energy sources can be certified.