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Guindos Questions Spanish Banks’ Choice to Head Industry Group

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Economy Minister Luis de Guindos questioned the appointment of Jose Maria Roldan, Spain’s former head of bank regulation, to lead the nation’s banking lobby, pitting him against the financial industry.

The Spanish Banking Association, known as AEB, said on Oct. 29 it would propose Roldan for chairman, a month after the Bank of Spain said it accepted his resignation as head of regulation and financial stability. De Guindos opposed his candidacy because of the previous role, El Pais reported on Nov. 3.

“The government neither supports nor vetoes absolutely anyone,” de Guindos told reporters today when asked about Roldan. “What the government does fundamentally is establish a general set of rules on conflicts of interest.”

The AEB represents banks including Banco Santander SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA and has channeled lenders’ criticism of policies affecting the industry. The chairman is chosen by the five biggest lenders and proposed to the assembly for ratification.

De Guindos said the issue should be seen in the “broader context” of Spain moving to exit its 41 billion-euro ($55 billion) European bank bailout program, which has improved transparency and corporate governance in the industry, as well as bolstering supervision.

A spokeswoman for the AEB, who asked not to be named in line with policy, declined to comment, and referred reporters to the Oct. 29 statement. The AEB assembly is due to vote on the new chairman in April.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emma Ross-Thomas in Madrid at erossthomas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Foxwell at sfoxwell@bloomberg.net

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