BBVA and Woodford-Backed Atom Bank Adds Ex-Garanti CEO to Board

Atom Bank, the British digital-banking startup backed by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA and fund manager Neil Woodford, named the executive who ran Turkey’s biggest bank for 15 years to its board.

Ergun Ozen, the former chief executive officer of Turkey’s Garanti Bank, which is 40 percent owned by Spain’s BBVA, joined the board this month, according to company filings. Ozen stepped down after 15 years at the Turkish bank in September.

Atom received regulatory approval in June and will be opened to U.K. retail customers this year, who will access the service online or through their phones. BBVA purchased a 29.5 percent stake in the firm for 45 million pounds ($64 million) in November, and is looking to expand its global reach and defend its market position by acquiring startups. Spain’s second-largest lender bought U.S. digital banking company Simple in 2014.

The filings show Woodford, one of the bank’s biggest investors, is allowed an observer at board meetings, though that person can’t vote. The filings also show BBVA can block rival banks from buying shares for three years, must be consulted over changes to the bank’s leadership and has preferential rights to buy more stock in the company.

BBVA has two seats, including Teppo Paavola, BBVA’s San Francisco-based chief development officer and general manager of new digital businesses, who became a director this month.

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