* Cesar Gonzalez-Bueno set to be named CEO - source
* Gonzalez-Bueno has over 35 years of experience in banking
* Worked as CEO of ING in Spain and Portugal for three years
* Sabadell retreats to Spain after collapse of talks with BBVA (Adds details of incoming CEO of Sabadell, challenges)
MADRID, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Spanish bank Sabadell is set to name industry veteran Cesar Gonzalez-Bueno as its next chief executive to replace Jaime Guardiola, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, weeks after merger talks with rival BBVA collapsed.
The source said the appointment, first reported by Bloomberg News, could be announced as soon as Thursday.
Sabadell declined to comment.
Guardiola has served as CEO of the bank alongside Chairman Josep Oliu since September 2007.
Sabadell and BBVA ended merger talks last month after failing to agree on a price, stalling a wave of Spanish bank tie-ups. A source aware of the talks said differences over the value of TSB, Sabadell’s British arm, were partly to blame.
Major IT glitches at TSB two years ago and uncertainty over Brexit have overshadowed Sabadell’s UK expansion and the bank is now looking to sell the British business. Since it announced the purchase of TSB in March 2015 for 1.7 billion pounds ($2.3 billion), Sabadell’s shares have fallen around 80%.
Gonzalez-Bueno, who is currently a non-executive director at TSB, has over 35 years of financial services experience.
He was previously the chairman of the advisory board of ING Bank Spain and Portugal, after being its CEO for almost three years.
According to TSB’s website, Gonzalez-Bueno’s achievements include the launch of ING Direct Spain 22 years ago, Spain’s leading online bank.
Like other European banks, Sabadell is in the midst of a digital transformation as it seeks to offset the impact of ultra low interest rates and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
SABADELL UNDER PRESSURE
The collapse of the merger talks have piled pressure on Sabadell, which was seen as the weaker partner, with investors worried about its ability to handle on its own the expected pick-up in bad loans stemming from the COVID-19 crisis.
Sabadell said at the time it would announce a new business plan, with a focus on its home market, in the first quarter of 2021.
Four sources with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month Sabadell was considering more job cuts and striking product distribution alliances with other European banks.
Bankers warn Sabadell’s options are limited, however, and additional cost saving measures may only buy it time until it is forced again to consider merging with a larger rival.
Sabadell’s shares, down 64% so far this year, were 1.2% lower at 0.37 euros in afternoon trade.
$1 = 0.7383 pounds