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Santander's board begins search for CEO Alvarez's replacement

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FILE PHOTO: Santander logo is pictured in Warsaw
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(Reuters) -Spain's Santander SA has begun the process to find a replacement for Chief Executive Officer Jose Antonio Alvarez, according to a source familiar with the matter, gearing up for a change at the bank's helm after seven years.

The bank's board, however, has not provided a time-frame for the search, the source added.

A number of the bank's top executives are among candidates to replace Alvarez, several bankers and financial sources in Spain told Reuters. Among them are Santander's regional head of Europe Antonio Simoes, wealth management head Victor Matarranz, CEO of Santander Mexico Hector Grisi and the lender's Chief Financial Officer Jose Antonio Garcia Cantera.

The plans were first reported by Bloomberg News, which said Alvarez had communicated internally that he plans to step down.

Santander declined to comment on the search and on the potential candidates, when contacted by Reuters.

The plans come more than three years after the Spanish lender withdrew the offer to make Italian banker Andrea Orcel CEO in 2019, making a rare, unexpected U-turn on such a high-level appointment. (https://reut.rs/3MfNY1x)

The decision led to a sour legal battle when Orcel filed a civil lawsuit against Spain's biggest bank. The former UBS group banker now heads Italy's second biggest bank UniCredit SpA.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and Jesús Aguado in Madrid; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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