Spotlight On... Jose Ignacio GoirigolzarriNewchairmanof Spanish bank Bankia
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Friday 11 May 2012
Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri. So how do you pronounce that exactly?
Er... quickly. We don't often feature Iberian executives in this column, but this is one very special Iberian.
Why's that then?
He's the man who's been helicoptered in to try and clean up the mess that is Spain's Bankia group, which was dramatically rescued late on Wednesday night to shore up the country's debt-riven banking sector.
So who is he?
A seasoned financier, he is the former chief executive of Spain's second-biggest bank, BBVA. He helped to run a major, and pretty successful, expansion into Latin America. So Snr Goirigolzarri is pretty well regarded.
But he's a banker. Wasn't it them that got Spain into this mess in the first place?
Fair point, but, in fact, Jose (forgive me for not repeating his surname again) has been a harsh critic of the banking system, and the state's attempts to sort it out. He has a blog in which he wrote early last year that Spain's banks were effectively concealing the true extent of their losses. And he said Madrid's first effort at bank reform would not work in the long term.
A truculent chap?
Let's say, outspoken. From the Basque region, Jose has a reputation for taking a long time making up his mind, but generally being right. More than ever, Spain needs someone to come up with effective solutions, rather than sticking plasters. One of his quotes on his blog runs as follows: "We must be realistic and precise in our objectives."
"Realistic and precise": what's he going to think of today's reforms, then?
Well, put it this way: Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy is expected to order the Spanish banks to set aside a further €35bn to cover them for the losses they've taken on dumb investments in property deals. Not so long ago, Spain's own central bank said it reckoned the bad debts were €170bn worse than the banks were admitting. Jose may not be so unwise as to say so, but perhaps we can guess at his view of Rajoy's medicine.
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