Santander cuts top directors' pay as profits slump

Spanish lender Santander shrank its directors' pay by almost 35 percent in 2012 as profits fell, with Chairman Emilio Botin taking one of the bigger cuts in remuneration among top executives.

Botin, 79, still earned just over 3 million euros ($4 million) for last year, including bonuses in cash and shares of 1.4 million euros, some of which is deferred.

But his total pay fell from 32 percent from 2011 as Santander posted a 59 percent fall in net profit. The bank was hit by writedowns on soured property assets in its home market and a fall in profits in Latin America.

The bank said fixed pay remained frozen at 2009 levels, with changes due to fluctuating variable payouts. Remuneration for top bankers has fallen across Europe in recent years as profits have dropped and governments have stepped in to prop up ailing lenders.

Santander Chief Executive Alfredo Saenz, in the spotlight after a Spanish court partially annulled an official pardon granted to him in 2011, was paid 8.24 million euros in 2012, however, even though his pay packet was reduced by almost a third.

The court ruling reinstates a sentence barring Saenz, 70, from working as a banker for three months.

Botin's daughter Ana Patricia was the only director to receive more in fixed pay. The head of Santander's British arm took home 5.14 million euros, an increase of 2.6 percent on 2011. ($1 = 0.7487 euros)

(Reporting by Sarah White and Clare Kane; Editing by David Holmes)