ECB sends Portugal’s choice for State bank directors “back to school”

Embarrassment and a sense of outrage has followed the European Central Bank’s blacklisting of eight of the Portuguese government’s choices for new non-executive directors of trouble-torn state bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos.

This morning, national tabloid Correio da Manhã is carrying an exclusive on the ECB’s intervention, as well as a critique by former PSD prime minister and mayor of Lisbon Pedro Santana Lopes.

Lopes doesn’t mince his words. The ECB’s “powers” are “dangerous exaggerations” which impinge on Portugal’s sovereignty.

“If we were to analyse the compatibilities and incompatibilities of European leaders, including those in the area of finance, these (too) would certainly be interesting,” he explains, suggesting this is yet another case where Portugal is being used as a “guinea pig” for the development of a future European Banking Union.

Lopes concludes his column saying the ECB and the European Commission have “overstepped the mark”.

But, for the time being at least, the government appears to be having to put up with it.

According to CM, three of seven new executive directors will have to go back to school in order to attain the level of expertise necessary for their new postings. This is likely to cost CGD at least €46,000, says the paper.

The apparently under-qualified nominees are João Tudela Martins, Paulo Rodrigues da Silva and Pedro Leitão. All of these were former directors of BPI, adds CM. The “completion” of their training, however, must now take place in the INSEAD school of business, in Fontainebleau, France (see photo).

Meantime, the ECB has rejected completely the nominations of various heavy-weight business leaders: Fernando Cunha Guedes (president of Grupo Sogrape), António Costa Silva (president of the Calouste Gulbenkian foundation’s fuel group Partex), Paulo Pereira da Silva (president of Renova), Rui Lopes Ferreira (President of Unicer), Bernardo Trinidade (President of Grupo Porto Bay), Angelo Paupério (Sonaecom / NOS director), Leonor Beleza (President of the Champalimaud Foundation) and Carlos Tavares (President of Peugeot Citroen).

Reasons were “not explained”, claims CM but they are almost certainly down to the “crossover of interests and businesses involved” – particularly as the choice for the bank’s chairman, António Domingues, has seen his new position ‘allowed’ but only on the basis that he renounces his directorship of telecommunications operator NOS.

According CM, the ECB is also “demanding” that replacement suggestions involve a 30% quota of women.