(Adds details, background)
MADRID, April 3 Banco Popular's chief
executive Pedro Larena is to step down, the Spanish bank said on
Monday, marking the group's third leadership shake-up since last
Banco Popular said in a statement that Larena would leave
for strictly personal reasons and would continue in his role
until the bank named a replacement.
Larena had joined Popular in September after the previous
CEO Francisco Gomez was fired in July after shareholders
rebelled over lack of progress in turning around the bank's
Popular has been trying to clean up its balance sheet which
is weighed down with billions of euros of toxic real estate
Earlier on Monday, Popular said an internal audit had found
the need for adjustments to the previous year's accounts. These
would be included in its results for the first half of 2017.
Popular said the adjustments would not affect its financial
statements in a "significant way" and they would have a small
impact on its 2016 accounts but they would affect its capital.
Popular's shares fell sharply and were down 8 percent by
Popular has been the worst performer in the European STOXX
Europe 600 banking sector index in the last six months
and is down 60 percent over the past year.
Larena had been considering stepping down for weeks after he
lost influence to Miguel Escrig, Telefonica's former
chief financial officer who was picked as the right hand man of
the new chairman Emilio Saracho, Expansion newspaper reported on
Monday, citing anonymous sources.
A Banco Popular spokesman declined to comment on the report.
Last December, Popular replaced former Chairman Angel Ron
with Saracho as it tried to get the bank's turnaround on track.
Popular posted a record 3.5-billion-euro ($3.74 billion)
loss in 2016. Its non-performing property loan book also eroded
its capital position and cast doubt over its financial targets.
Larena previously was Deutsche Bank's head of
international retail banking.
($1 = 0.9368 euros)
(Reporting By Jesús Aguado; Editing by Angus Berwick and Jane