Shareholders at Spanish bank Banco Popular have voted to replace its Chairman Angel Ron, following his poor performance in dealing with the bank’s financial struggles. Popular holds 30 billion euros in toxic assets. Ron had planned on creating a new division with €6 billion from its property assets, as a means of decreasing its non-performing real estate portfolio by half by 2018. However, given the lack of specifics in the plan, a number of board members did not believe it was viable. Ron took over the helm of Popular a decade ago, but with the stock price down 95 percent, the shareholders are ready for a change. Popular is the sixth largest bank in Spain by assets, and has carried a lot of the baggage left by the country’s financial collapse in 2012. Popular announced the bank’s board is set to vote unanimously for Emilio Saracho to become the new Chairman in the first quarter of 2017. Saracho is currently the global vice president of JP Morgan Chase.
Mexican billionaire Antonio del Valle, who sits on the board, was amongst those who had grown impatient with Ron and is believed to be pushing for a more permanent solution. One such solution is for the bank to be taken over by a rival. Over the past three months, Popular’s shares have been hardest hit in the European STOXX 600 banking index. Over the past two quarters the bank has yielded very little profit and is set to face the same scrutiny as Italy’s highly indebted banks. Shares were up 12 percent after the announcement. Reports in Spanish newspaper Expansion revealed that BBVA is in talks over a potential takeover. Banco Sabadell and Caixabank are also rumoured to be in the merger conversation. Ron had been an advocate for the bank to stay independent.