Orcel Cuts Amount He’s Seeking From Santander Before Hearing

Andrea Orcel cut the amount he’s seeking from Banco Santander SA before their dispute over a rescinded job offer, secret tape recordings and millions in lost pay is headed to a Madrid court on Wednesday.

Orcel cut the period for which he will seek financial compensation to two years from five, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The reduction reflects the fact that he took on a new role as chief executive officer of Italy’s UniCredit SpA on April 15, the people said, asking to not be named because the matter is private.

Orcel, who quit as UBS Group AG’s top investment banker in 2018 to join Santander as CEO, had initially been seeking as much as 112 million euros ($136 million), claiming the Spanish bank upended his career with its last minute decision to withdraw the offer in a dispute of pay. Santander in turn accused Orcel of secretly recording conversations on the matter.

The case is headed to court Wednesday, where Santander Chairman Ana Botin is expected to testify. Orcel, who was out of a job for more than two years, isn’t required to attend in person. The hearing may still be canceled if both sides reach a last-minute settlement.

Representatives for Orcel and Santander declined to comment on the reduced claim. Reuters earlier reported that Orcel’s new claim amounts to slightly more than 45 million euros.

Orcel Cuts Amount He’s Seeking From Santander Before Hearing

Botin stunned the financial world in September 2018 by announcing the hire of Orcel. The 58-year-old Rome native made his reputation advising on some of Europe’s biggest banking mergers prior to the financial crisis, and he had a long history working for Botin’s late father Emilio on deals. At UBS, he reshaped the investment bank as the firm pivoted toward wealth management, but waited in vain for the top role.

His move to Santander fell apart within months over the issue of the UBS bonuses that he risked forgoing by joining a competitor. In the Spanish bank’s version, its letter offering Orcel a job required him to make his “best efforts” to reduce the cost to Santander of his deferred compensation from UBS. The Swiss lender did agree to pay him an amount of 13.7 million euros but Orcel refused to have that factored in to cutting the cost of his appointment, Santander said in a statement in July 2019.

The ongoing dispute has cast a shadow over his appointment to UniCredit. The Italian lender will not compensate him for deferred payments he will lose for joining a peer within seven years of leaving the Swiss bank in 2018.

Proceedings at Madrid’s Court of First Instance No. 46 are expected to only last Wednesday morning. A decision could take weeks or even months, and the court’s verdict can be appealed. A settlement can be reached at any time, even when proceedings start and until the judge gives the verdict.

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