UPDATE 2-Santander's new head Ana Botin reaffirms bank's strategy, dividend
(Adds details on dividend, international expansion)
By Jesús Aguado
SANTANDER, Spain, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Ana Botin, the new chairwoman of Santander, told shareholders on Monday she would defend the legacy of her father at the helm of the euro zone's biggest bank and her priorities include maintaining its generous dividend policy.
Appointed last week after the sudden death of her father, Emilio, Botin also said she would push ahead with the international diversification of the lender.
"The attention towards you, the shareholders, was always one of his priorities and the dividend at the centre of the bank's concerns," she said.
"Looking ahead, we will stick to this strategy."
Santander, which was transformed by Emilio Botin from a local lender into a global systemic bank after he took over from his own father as chairman in 1986, now has major operations in 10 countries including Britain, Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Argentina and Poland.
Banking sources told Reuters last week that Ana Botin may now prioritise further growth in the United States as well as in Poland.
Santander's diversification abroad helped protect it from Southern Europe's recent crippling economic downturn and it was one of few international banks that did not suffer a single quarterly loss over the last six years following the financial crisis. Continuación...