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UPDATE 1-Banker Orcel's CEO court showdown with Santander pushed back to April

(Adds details on the case, reactions)

MADRID, March 10 (Reuters) - The first full hearing in a legal dispute between Italian banker Andrea Orcel and Spanish bank Santander will be held on Apr. 7, a local Madrid court said on Wednesday, the day the showdown had originally been due to open.

The hearing of the case brought by Orcel, over the bank’s withdrawal of an offer to make him CEO, was postponed after the judge handling the case had to go into quarantine over contact with a person with COVID-19.

It is still due to take place before Orcel’s planned appointment as chief executive of Italy’s UniCredit, expected after a shareholders’ meeting in mid-April.

Orcel was offered the role of CEO at Santander in September 2018. The bank changed its mind the following January, saying it could not meet his pay demands, in a rare U-turn involving such a high-level appointment.

The case revolves around whether a four-page offer letter was a binding job contract, as Orcel says, or a non-binding initial offer, as the bank argues.

Orcel is suing Santander, the euro zone’s second-largest bank by market value for up to 112 million euros ($133 million).

The hearing delay is the second time the case has had to be rescheduled as a result of the pandemic. A preliminary hearing of legal teams was postponed from April 2020 until September due to a lockdown in Spain.

The Italian banker’s legal team was not immediately available to comment on Wednesday, while Santander declined to comment on the case.

On Tuesday, UniCredit declined to comment, saying the litigation was a private matter. It reiterated that the case had no impact on Orcel’s appointment.

$1 = 0.8405 euros Reporting by Jesús Aguado; editing by Andrei Khalip and Pravin Char

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