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By Sarah Morris and Sarah White
MADRID, May 4 (Reuters) - BBVA on Monday replaced Chief Operating Officer Angel Cano with its head of digital banking in a surprise management shake-up at the Spanish lender.
Carlos Torres Vila, a former finance director at Spanish utility Endesa who joined BBVA in 2008 as head of corporate strategy and development, will replace Cano, the bank said in a statement to the Spanish stock exchange regulator.
BBVA has long been vocal about the importance of digital banking. The lender said in October its investment in improving digital banking would lead to savings of between 160 million to 180 million euros this year.
"Carlos is the ideal person to continue pushing through the process of transformation," Cano, who will leave the bank and its board, said in BBVA's statement.
Cano had been the second most senior executive at BBVA under 70-year-old Chairman Francisco Gonzalez since 2009, steering the bank through Spain's economic downturn.
BBVA's profits have recovered in the past few quarters helped by revenues from overseas markets, such as Mexico. Cano's departure comes days after the bank posted first-quarter results which showed net profit had doubled from a year earlier. .
"The board of BBVA has named Carlos Torres Vila as chief operating officer to start a new phase in which digital transformation will be the main strategic priority of the group," it said.
The bank's board also approved a new management structure which included naming Vicente Rodero as head of country networks. Country managers will report to him directly and he will continue as the chief executive of BBVA's Mexican business Bancomer.
Cano had accumulated 26 million euros ($29 million) in his pension plan, according to BBVA's 2014 annual corporate governance report. ($1 = 0.8972 euros) (Additional reporting by Carlos Ruano; editing by Jane Merriman and David Clarke)