The Board of Directors of PRISA has appointed Juan Luis Cebrián as Chairman of the Group, at the proposal of the outgoing Ignacio Polanco, who was named Honorary Chairman by the Board at the same meeting. It was also agreed to appoint Fernando Abril-Martorell as CEO (previously Deputy CEO) and to name Manuel Polanco Moreno deputy chairman.
Addressing members of the board, Ignacio Polanco explained that after the death of Jesus Polanco, five years ago, a period of transition had commenced under his stewardship that has now culminated with a series of changes now being announced. He noted that during these five years he and his family and associates, have spared no efforts in supporting business continuity. This support was to be seen clearly not only in their ongoing contribution to continuity in management, but was also evident in the their support for changes to the company’s capital structure, in which the family remains the controlling shareholder. “The new shareholder structure”, he added, “and the fact that we are listed on the Madrid and New York stock exchanges, justifies taking this step towards a more professional and independent management culture than that which till now prevailed at PRISA, which was run much like a family business. The continuation of my brother Manuel as deputy chairman of the company symbolizes and ensures our continued support for it and our commitment to its future. I take great pride and satisfaction at being appointed as Honorary Chairman, for both its symbolism and it recognition of my work. I hope to prove myself worthy of that title.” Ignacio Polanco, who will continue as Chairman of Timón, PRISA’s reference shareholder, will also continue to chair the Santillana Foundation.
Juan Luis Cebrián, upon assuming the executive chair, and after thanking the Board for their confidence in him, highlighted the generosity and team spirit that the decision taken by Ignacio Polanco means. “During these past five years, and during the thirty I worked closely with Jesus Polanco, I have received nothing but the encouragement and support I needed to face very difficult situations. My goal is to achieve definitive shareholder stability, maintain our crucial social role, and lay the groundwork for further development, once we have solved the problems related to the excessive debt that we still carry. We still live in difficult times and it is necessary to take urgent decisions and to avoid any ambiguity or confusion, both within the company and in regard to the group’s external image.” Cebrián expressed his gratitude to Fernando Abril-Martorell, who joined the company eighteen months ago “and who in such a short space of time has played a crucial role both in the process of refinancing the Group, as well as in its strategic direction, organizational restructuring and operational efficiency. For PRISA, and for me personally, it is a privilege to have someone like him on board. ”
At the same meeting Diego Hidalgo Schnurr, who for many years was the second largest shareholder of the company and a member of the board, resigned as director representing controlling shareholders. In a brief statement, he seconded the previous speakers, saying that PRISA was entering a new era and that this was the time for him to leave the Board after more than thirty years. Hidalgo was deeply committed and involved in social responsibility and cooperation through the numerous foundations he created and supported, and he will remain on the Board of Trustees of the Fundación Santillana.
Fernando Abril-Martorell then thanked the Board for his appointment, while expressing his commitment to the Group’s professional teams. “Although much progress has been made in the refinancing and restructuring of PRISA”, he said, “there are still important steps to take in the coming months. This reorganization in the management bodies, consistent with the decisions taken at the last Annual General Shareholders Meeting, will ensure the continuity of our efforts in developing our businesses and the transformation of our model to better exploit the enormous potential for growth. ”
Manuel Polanco, meanwhile, echoed the words of his brother Ignacio, stressing that from his position as deputy chairman of the Group, he will maintain the commitment of his family to the future of PRISA.