António Horta Osório
CEO, Abbey National
António graduated from Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Portugal with a five year degree in Management and Business Administration. Before he graduated, António wrote to all of the main Portuguese and foreign banks in Portugal before taking up a position with CitiBank, considered at the time as one of the best organisations to learn banking management. António’s role at Citibank also allowed him to continue his role as an Associate Professor at Universidade Católica.
“I spent four years at CitiBank but I always wanted to deepen my academic background and learn more about business so I applied to INSEAD to do an MBA. For me, INSEAD was the only place to do an MBA for two reasons - its reputation and the quality of the students it attracts.”
“I have great memories of my time at INSEAD. The location was fantastic with all of its wonderful scenery and was a very special place to learn. The teachers, my fellow students, the courses, the content – it was all very inspiring and mixing with so many different nationalities made INSEAD a very unique place. My biggest sporting passions were tennis and soccer, both of which I was able to pursue at INSEAD but my fondest memory has to be my graduation ceremony as I received the Henry Ford II Prize for finishing top of my class.”
When António left INSEAD he was invited to join Goldman Sachs, working in both New York and London, focusing on corporate finance activities in Portugal. “INSEAD gave me the mental capacity and the tools to immediately take on an international career when I graduated. This has proved very valuable throughout my career.”
It was whilst António was at Goldman Sachs that he first came into contact with the Santander Banking Group, when he was headhunted to return to Portugal to set up a new investment bank. At this time, António was still only 28. The Santander de Negócios bank began operating in 1993 and the following year, António’s team had already won the ‘Euromoney’ prize for the best foreign bank operating in Portugal.
Three years later António was sent on a mission to set up Santander operations in Sao Paulo, Brazil, whilst continuing to manage the investment bank in Portugal. Santander was unknown in Brazil but just three years later it was Brazil’s sixth largest private bank and the largest financial group in Latin America.
When Santander acquired Totta, the third largest bank in Portugal, in 2000 António returned to Lisbon as CEO of the newly formed Santander Totta. He then became a non-Executive Director of Abbey National in the UK in November 2004, taking over as Chief Executive in August 2006. In 2008, his responsibilities extended following Abbey’s purchase of the Bradford & Bingley savings business and the acquisition of Alliance & Leicester and in June 2009 he was appointed as a Director of The Bank of England.
António is an Executive Vice President of The Santander Group and a member of its Management Committee; and also the Chairman of Santander Totta in Portugal where he was CEO from 1999 – 2006.
Since graduating from INSEAD, António has always been very involved with INSEAD’s Portugal council, both as a member and as Chairman, and always tries to attend these meetings in Portugal, despite living in London.
“Throughout my business life my success has stemmed from my ability to recruit and build high calibre teams, without whom the companies I have led would not be where they are today. I am particularly proud of the work we did to establish Santander in Brazil, the development of Santander Totta into the leading Portuguese bank and the work we are currently doing to turnaround Abbey National in the UK whilst integrating the A&L and B&B businesses into what will be Santander UK in early 2010. When I think of my ambition for the future, it is simple, I would like to create the best and most successful commercial bank in the UK and that is all I am focused on right now.”
“My greatest source of pride is my wife, who I have been married to for twenty two years and my three children. If I am to be remembered, I would like it to be as a loving and deeply caring father and husband and also as someone who created value wherever he worked through building teams of excellent people whom he led by example.”