The story of many successful Spanish companies began at home. Over time, especially in recent years, some owner families have decided to cede their executive power to technical and external profiles. A decision that does not imply that it is better than another, but that is sometimes necessary to make when things go wrong.
The latest case has been that of Grifols , who at the beginning of the week decided to appoint an executive president, Steven Mayer, who would command the operations that the family had carried out until now. The decision came to alleviate debt levels that drown the company. The family, however, remains in management through the two CEOs of the pharmaceutical company, Víctor and Raimon Grifols.
Talgo or Técnicas Reunidas have recently made similar decisions. The Oriol family appointed Gonzalo Urquijo as chief executive in 2021, leaving José María de Oriol as non-executive vice president. Carlos Palacios Oriol is Executive Chairman. For its part, the Lladó family, owner of Técnicas Reunidas, appointed Eduardo San Miguel at the beginning of this year as CEO, a role carried out by Chairman Juan Lladó.
These examples are a trend in recent years in many of the main companies in the country. Ferrovial did it two decades ago, although Rafael del Pino remains as executive president. A similar situation occurs in Alsa, in the hands of the Cosmen family. Jorge Cosmen continues as president, but Francisco Iglesias rose to the position of CEO in 2016.
Grupo Antolín has Ramón Sotomayor as its CEO and Ernesto Antolín as president. In Banca March, the executive presidency corresponds to Juan March de la Lastra, but he shares stripes with Rita Rodríguez, executive vice president, and José Luis Acea, CEO. Artur Carulla Mas relieved a year ago in the presidency of Agrolimen (Gallina Blanca), a company that has had Joan Cornudella as CEO since 2009. A similar model follows Roca Group.
Almirall embarked on the path of outsourcing executive powers (CEO) and not even the succession in the Gallardo family has changed the bet. The clan reserves the presidency, but from a non-executive position. The same goes for Coca-Cola European Partners, in which Sol Daurella is president and Damian Gammell CEO.
Gestamp and El Corte Inglés
At Gestamp and El Corte Inglés, the families of reference gave up part of their power years ago, but in recent times they have recovered it. President Francisco Riberas assumed the functions of CEO again in 2020 after the resignation of Francisco López Peña. And Marta Álvarez, president of El Corte Inglés, has created an executive committee of five members after the resignation of Víctor del Pozo in March as CEO -without a substitute-.
There are families that concentrate all the executive control in their companies. This is the case of Rovi, commanded by the López-Belmonte family. Now it is the two sons of the founder, Juan and Javier, who are in control. In the Meliá hotel company, the Escarrers control capital and management, as do the Entrecanales in Acciona, Juan Roig in Mercadona, the Gut in Prosegur, the Rubiralta in Celsa, Demetrio Carceller in Dammo Marc Puig in Puig. .
There are cases for all tastes. In fact, Inditex took a reverse path a few months ago. Amancio Ortega controls 59.2% of the capital and his daughter Marta has been in charge as non-executive president since April, when she replaced Pablo Isla, although he did have executive functions. Óscar García Maceiras is the CEO. Another curious case is that of Banco Santander. The entity has been directed by the Botín saga since the beginning of the 20th century, when Emilio Botín Sanz de Sautuola founded it. Today the participation of the family is minimal, but since 2014 Ana Botín has been in charge.
Companies ceding executive power
Grifols: Steven Mayer
The Grifols family, in its different branches, controls around 30% of the pharmaceutical company’s capital through different investment vehicles. After the Covid pandemic, the pharmaceutical company has not managed to straighten the course and the company has been falling in the markets. As a consequence, a non-family chief executive, Steven Mayer, was appointed earlier this week. All in all, there are still two Grifols within the decision-making scheme. Both Víctor and Raimon remain CEOs of the company after the latest movements.
Gathered Techniques: Eduardo San Miguel
José Lladó founded Técnicas Reunidas with other businessmen 62 years ago. Today the Lladó family is a benchmark shareholder in Spanish engineering with a 37.2% stake in the capital. In 2020, Lladó handed over the executive presidency to his son Juan Lladó, who maintained the functions of CEO that he already exercised. However, at the beginning of this year he ceded part of his executive power with the appointment as CEO of the until then financial director Eduardo San Miguel. However, he does not have a seat on the board of directors chaired by Juan Lladó.
Talgo: Gonzalo Urquijo
Through Pegaso Transportation -a company in which the Trilantic fund dominates- the Oriol family holds 35% of Talgo’s capital. For several generations, the Oriols have been at the helm of the company, both from the presidency, where Carlos de Palacio Oriol currently follows, and from the position of CEO. In the latter case, in March 2021, the national train manufacturer appointed an outsider, Gonzalo Urquijo, as the company’s chief executive while José María de Oriol, until then CEO, moved to the position of non-executive vice president.
Ferrovial: Ignacio Madridejos
Rafael del Pino is Ferrovial’s main shareholder with 20% of the capital and has held the executive chairmanship since his father handed it over to him in 2000 -he had been CEO since 1992-. Several of his brothers remain shareholders, with the Del Pino family adding a third. In 2002, Joaquín Ayuso was appointed CEO, sharing executive powers with the Chairman. He remained in office until 2009, when Del Pino turned to a man from the house, Íñigo Meirás, to be his number two. In 2019, he was succeeded by Ignacio Madridejos, from Cemex USA.
Almirall: Gianfranco Nazzi
The Catalan pharmaceutical company began to entrust its executive command a few years ago. Since 2021, Gianfranco Nazzi has held the position of CEO. All in all, the Gallardo family controls almost 60% of the company’s capital through two investment vehicles. As the maximum representative of the clan within the structure of the pharmaceutical company is Carlos Gallardo, son of the historic leader Jorge. The position he holds is that of non-executive president. The succession happened a few months ago, in May of this year, after the resignation of his father.
Inditex: Oscar Garcia Maceiras
Amancio Ortega is not only the founder of the textile giant Inditex, he also controls 59.2% of the capital. Since April of this year, his youngest daughter, Marta Ortega, has held the presidency after the departure of Pablo Isla. However, contrary to what happened with his predecessor, his functions are limited and he does not have executive powers. The same day that the arrival to the presidency of the little girl from the Ortega clan was announced, the appointment of a new CEO was announced, Óscar García Maceiras, who is the one who holds executive power within the owner of Zara.
The English Court: Marta Alvarez
El Corte Inglés has suffered several corporate ups and downs in recent years. In 2019, after the departure of Dimas Gimeno from the textile group, Marta Álvarez, heir to the family company, was appointed non-executive president. Power was held jointly by Jesús Nuño de la Rosa and Víctor del Pozo. After the departure of the first, Del Pozo was left alone. However, at the beginning of 2022, this executive also left the company and Álvarez remained in charge. In September, she created an executive commission that she presides over and has two directors and the two general directors.
Coca-Cola: Damian Gammell
Years ago, international growth and listing on the stock market led to the professionalization of the executive positions of the current bottler Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, with Damian Gammell as CEO. Sol Daurella (third generation) acts as president on behalf of the company’s largest shareholder, which is the Catalan Daurella family, which built its multinational empire from the Cobega bottler in Barcelona, which it grew through acquisitions on the Peninsula, Europe and the rest of the world.
Banca March: Jose Luis Acea
Banca March, head of the Corporación Financiera Alba holding company, has shared executive controls between the family and the firm’s directors. Its capital is distributed among the children of Juan March: Juan (33.3%), Carlos (33.3%), Gloria (16.6%) and Leonor March Delgado (16.6%). In 2015 Carlos March Delgado gave the pass to his son Juan March de la Lastra in the executive presidency after holding the reins for four decades. March de la Lastra is accompanied on the front line as Executive Vice President Rita Rodríguez and José Luis Acea as CEO.
Rovi: Juan Lopez-Belmonte
The López-Belmonte family, through the Norbel Investments vehicle, controls 55.19% of the capital of the pharmaceutical company Rovi. For many years, Juan López-Belmonte Sr. ran the company and made it known to the world. During his presidency, his sons Juan and Javier also participated in the company’s important decisions, the first from the position of CEO and the second from the position of CFO. A little over a year ago, Juan Sr. passed away and since then his son Juan is president and his other son Javier is vice president, both with full powers.
Gestamp: Francisco J. Riberas
The case of Gestamp is one of the examples of family businesses run by the Riberas family itself. This, headed by Francisco J. Riberas Mera and his brother Jon, owns 73.76% of the capital of the multinational automotive components company. A dominant position that they did not lose even when the company debuted on the stock market in 2017. Although they did have to distribute executive functions. This was what happened with Francisco López Peña, who was then appointed CEO of the company, a position he held until 2020, when he resigned from the position.
Prosegur: Christian Gut Revoredo
The Revoredo family holds the leadership of the Prosegur company. As president is Helena Revoredo Delvecchio and as executive vice president and CEO is her eldest son, Christian Gut Revoredo. Helena Revoredo Delvecchio has 325,918,244 voting rights, through Gubel, SL and Prorevosa, SL, which represents 59.409% of the total. For her part, Christian has 0.3%. The other family representation that is on the Board of Directors is that of Chantal, who acts as a member on behalf of Gubel.
Acciona: Jose Manuel Entrecanales
José Manuel Entrecanales Domecq has been the president and CEO of Acciona since 2004, when José María Entrecanales de Azcárate handed over the baton. His cousin, Juan Ignacio Entrecanales Franco, then assumed the executive vice-presidency that was held by his father, Juan Entrecanales de Azcárate. The two cousins -third generation- have maintained the executive controls of Acciona -successfully- and shareholder control of the group, to the point that they have syndicated the shares of the two families. Entrecanales Franco have 29% and Entrecanales Domecq 26.1%, totaling 55.1%.
Melia: Gabriel Escarrer
The hotel group was founded in 1957 by Gabriel Escarrer Juliá and 65 years later power is still in the hands of the family. Currently more than 55% of the capital is in the hands of the Escarrer saga through various companies. The founder is listed as non-executive chairman and external proprietary director, while his son Gabriel Escarrer Jaume is the executive vice president and CEO. Until last February, María Antonia Escarrer, daughter of the founder and sister of the CEO, was also on the group’s Board of Directors.
Mercadona: Juan Roig
The Mercadona distribution chain is 100% managed by Juan Roig Alfonso, president of the company since 1981. In addition, his wife, Hortesina Mª Herrero Chacón, is the vice president of the company. Within the same Board of Directors, the Secretary of the Board is their daughter, Carolina Roig Herrero. Likewise, his other daughters, Hortensia, Amparo and Juana Ruig are the members of the company together with Fernando Roig Alfonso, Juan Roig’s brother. In the Audit Committee, the president is his daughter Juana Roig and the Secretary is his other daughter, Carolina.