Andrea Orcel court showdown postponed after UBS chair fails to show as witness

Andrea Orcel court showdown postponed after UBS chair fails to show as witness

2021-05-19 11:56:00 PM

Andrea Orcel court showdown postponed after UBS chair fails to show as witness

UniCredit CEO is suing over millions of euros in lost pay in Santander’s aborted job offer

Macarena Munoz and Sonia SirlettiUnicredit CEO Andrea Orcel attends a court hearing in Madrid, Spain, May 18 2021. Picture: ANGEL NAVARRETE/BLOOMBERGThe court showdown between new UniCredit  CEO  Andrea Orcel and Banco Santander  chair Ana Botin over millions of euro  in lost pay took an unexpected turn on Wednesday, after witnesses from Orcel’s former employers at UBS Group  failed to attend the hearing.

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The case, in which Orcel is suing Santander for reneging on an offer to hire him as CEO in 2019, was halted as a result of the absence of UBS chair Axel Weber and another executive. Orcel was head of the Swiss lender’s investment bank and walked away from an initial $50m in deferred pay when he attempted to join Santander. He has since recouped some of those funds.

Orcel had been seeking as much as €112m, claiming Santander upended his career with its last-minute decision. In turn, Santander has accused Orcel of secretly recording conversations on the matter. Botin argued in court on Wednesday that the two parties had never agreed on the terms of Orcel’s buyout from UBS and as a result no contract had been reached. headtopics.com

“His appointment never took effect,” Botin told the judge. “The contract was never fulfilled.”Botin said Orcel agreed to make his “best efforts” to reduce the cost of his appointment for Santander and the Spanish bank expected the Swiss lender would pay at least 50% of the €35m deferred compensation the executive was expected to receive.

UBS declined to comment on the case.“Me personally and the board we were thrilled with Orcel joining the bank,” Botin said, adding that she considered him as “the best” negotiator and a very close adviser for many years. When Botin entered the court, she said good morning but did not look at Orcel.

“It is important that the judge hears the facts, that is why we are here today,” Orcel said outside. “This has always been about integrity and ensuring that the truth was put on record, and I think that we will achieve that today.”Reduced sayOrcel 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 CEO of UniCredit on April 15, the people said, asking to not be named because the matter is private. Spanish newspaper Expansion reported Orcel is now seeking €76m.

Botin stunned the financial world in September 2018 by announcing Orcel’s hiring. The 58-year-old Rome native made his reputation advising on some of Europe’s biggest banking mergers before 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 towards wealth management, but waited in vain for the top role. headtopics.com

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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 reduce the cost to Santander of his deferred compensation from UBS. The Swiss lender did agree to pay him an amount of €13.7m 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.The court will resume the hearing when informed of the availability of Weber and Shelton to attend.

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