The Business On... Ana Botin, Chief executive, Santander UK

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The Independent Online

Don't I know that name?

Probably: it's a famous one in banking. Ms Botin, who was appointed as boss of Santander's UK subsidiary last month, is the daughter of Emilio Botin, the Spanish bank's chairman.



Isn't that shocking nepotism?

Don't jump to conclusions. The Financial Services Authority has no qualms at all about Ms Botin's appointment. The City regulator cleared her for the post on Tuesday, paving the way for Ms Botin to move into her new office yesterday.



But is she any good?

Absolutely. She is regarded as extremely tough but exceptionally competent. The UK job is a promotion that is seen by analysts as a reward for the good job she did in steering Santander's Banesto subsidiary through the Spanish property market collapse over the past few years.



A welcome addition to the UK's banking sector after all then?

Indeed. Not least, because it's about time one of our big banks was run by a woman. Helen Weir, a bigwig at Lloyds, was tipped for the top job there, but missed out when Ms Botin's predecessor got the gig. Otherwise, women continue to be very poorly represented in banking boardrooms, especially at executive level. Ms Botin will also join the small but growing number of female FTSE 100 company bosses when Santander UK floats next year.



How's that going?

Let's just say there are some issues to resolve. Santander is getting caught up in the growing nervousness about Spain's economic situation. And as a sort of "welcome to London" present, two of Ms Botin's key staff revealed on Tuesday that they are following their former leader to Lloyds.



It all sounds rather challenging...

There certainly isn't going to be much time to keep up with her passion for golf – a pity, since she would play most bankers off the fairways and greens. While Santander wasfinalising the announcement of her appointment last month, Ms Botin was to be found taking on the tennis star Rafael Nadal over 18 holes at a course in Santander. She won.

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