March 24, 2023

The promotion of Jaume Masana i Ribalta (Manresa, 1967) to the Business Management of Caixabank marks the culmination of the return to the first line of Spanish banking. Despite the fact that the powers of his predecessor are now divided into three directions, the Manresa-born financier will take the reins of the main activity of the largest banking franchise in Spain by assets, deposits, offices, employees and a large number of magnitudes.

He replaces Juan Antonio Alcaraz in a key position trusted by the CEO, Gonzalo Gortázar, but he also has the approval of Isidre Fainé, also from Manresa, president of the La Caixa Foundation and Criteria Caixa, the bank’s main shareholder with 30%. of the capital, which has given its particular support to both his appointment. He was also one of his signing in 2013 by Caixabank after his departure from Catalunya Banc, where he was CEO until the FROB recapitalized the entity with 12,000 million euros and opted to dismiss him before selling the entity to BBVA.

Reunion with the FROB

The one from Masana, 55, is the resurgence of a promising youth squad in Catalan finance, named ‘Young Excellence of Catalonia’ in 1998. He was the main executive of the successful Caixa Manresa, together with Adolf Todó, until it had to merge into 2009 with Caixa Catalunya led by Narcís Serra and Caixa Tarragona in the recapitalization processes (cold mergers or SIPs) sponsored by the Banco de España led by Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordoñez.

His prestige as a banker withstood the worst crisis in the financial system in Spain with the well-known debacle of the savings banks. He was at the wheel of the largest attempt to restructure the sector with the aforementioned merger, although it ended in the nationalization of Catalunya Banc. His rescue required an amount, proportionally to the super perimeter of assets and business volume, much higher than what had to be allocated to Bankia.

Sources familiar with Masana’s trajectory considering that he had a key role in the restructuring of the great Catalan bank – drowned by Caixa Cataluña and in which Manresa was the most solvent entity -, such as that of José Ignacio Goirigolzarri and José Sevilla in Bankia but, in his case, it ended badly and prematurely with an express sale to BBVA.

The now head of Business at Caixabank came to litigate against the FROB after his dismissal and the blocking of his severance pay and pension. The courts agreed with him in 2014, ruling his reinstatement and restitution of all emoluments (just over 1.5 million euros).

In 2021, Masana was strengthened after the merger with Bankia, controlled by the FROB, by assuming the territorial management of Catalonia, one of the most relevant of the entity. Born in Manresa in 1967, he has a degree in Business Administration and an MBA from the ESADE business school, with master’s degrees from Luigi Bocconi and New York University.

With the arrival of Masana to the Management Committee of Caixabank, Jordi Nicolau, until now responsible for consumer experience and another banker of the house who has held the territorial directorates of Barcelona and Catalonia, also enters the decision-making body as director of Payments. two of the most important areas of the bank that Masana has just passed through.

The third appointment in the running has been that of Mariona Vicens, until now responsible for innovation and analysis, who will occupy the new direction of Digital Transformation. In fact, Caixabank sees the management reshuffle as the “beginning of a new stage” in which it identifies two challenges: leadership, its commercial maintenance and facing its digital transformation.

Other entities and voices in the financial sector have used this language in the past, the meaning of which is to lighten physical structures and boost digital services. Caixabank reached June 2022 with a workforce of 37,443 people, barely 200 fewer than a year earlier, and 4,551 branches, 92% of them in Spain. In the last rolling year, the bank had closed 774 branches, representing a reduction of 14%.

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