CHAIRMAN of Santander bank, Emilio Botin, has died of a heart attack aged 79.

One of Spain’s most powerful men, Botin transformed Santander from a small domestic lender in the Eurozone’s biggest bank.

The bank has announced that it will hold a board meeting later today to name his successor, with the most likely candidate being Botin’s eldest daughter Ana Botin, who currently leads Santander’s British sector.

If Ana Botin is successful, however, it could spark controversy as banking dynasties the world over are coming under scrutiny, following a scandal involving the founding family’s ‘financial irregularities’ at Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo.

“Succession shouldn’t just be saying ‘my daughter’s going to take over’,” said a corporate governance expert at a global asset manager which owns Santander shares.

At 8am GMT, Santander stock was down 1.7% at €7.62.

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