BBVA shareholders meet today in Bilbao (northern Spain), where the bank will hold its Annual General Meeting. Starting at noon, Group executive chairman Carlos Torres Vila and CEO Onur Genç will present the bank’s shareholders with the most significant 2019 accomplishments and the outlook for 2020.
For the 2019 fiscal year, BBVA Group achieved a net attributable profit — excluding one-time items — of €4.83 billion, the highest since 2009. Increased recurring revenues and strict control of operating expenses were the drivers supporting this result. Also in 2019, BBVA agreed to sell 100% of its capital in BBVA Paraguay to Grupo Financiero Gilinski.
BBVA closed the year as the best performing Spanish bank on the stock market, with a more than 13 percent increase in its stock price plus dividend. The bank is maintaining the dividend payment of last year, with a total remuneration of €0.26 against 2019 earnings, which translates into a 36 percent payout, within the 35-40 percent range established by the bank’s dividend policy. This dividend is still subject to approval at the AGM.
Also in 2019, BBVA continued to advance its digital transformation. The bank grew by more than 3 million customers worldwide and surpassed its target of having more than half of its customer base banking from mobile devices. BBVA's digital sales increased in magnitude, representing 45 percent of the total sales value. The bank also maintained its lead in customer satisfaction indices in most of the countries across its footprint. Another accomplishment in 2019 was the unification of its brand identity, including a new logo, in all countries.
Throughout the year, BBVA also further strengthened its commitment to sustainability and inclusive development, as announced by the chairman at the previous AGM. Between 2018 and 2019, BBVA secured €30 billion in sustainable financing as part of its Pledge 2025. At nearly one-third of the bank's €100 billion commitment, this figure represents a major achievement. BBVA has also made progress in helping its customers transition to a more sustainable economy. To this end, the bank announced that over the course of 2020 sustainable alternatives for all its products in Spain will be available.
In September 2019, BBVA signed the Principles for Responsible Banking, a joint initiative promoted by 130 financial institutions and the United Nations, which aims to prepare the banking sector to address the climate challenges facing society. BBVA was also one of 31 banks worldwide to join the Collective Commitment to Climate Action.
Finally, in December 2019 BBVA announced that it would set an internal price for its CO2 emissions, thus incorporating this factor into decision-making processes starting January 1, 2020. The defined price will be used by all departments to budget their CO2 expenditure, encouraging a reduction in emissions. All of this will help the bank achieve its goal to be carbon neutral in emissions in 2020.
New strategic priorities
As announced by Carlos Torres Vila during the annual earnings presentation, BBVA updated its strategic plan in 2019. The bank has transformed itself into a leading digital player over the past five years. Now BBVA wants to further increase the benefits of this transformation for customers, business, employees, shareholders, and society as a whole. To this end, Torres Vila presented six new strategic priorities:
The first four priorities are focused on: 1) improving our customers’ financial health; 2) helping our clients transition toward a sustainable future; 3) reaching more customers; and 4) driving operational excellence. To achieve these objectives, BBVA relies on the final two priorities: 5) having the best, most engaged team; and 6) technology and data.
What will BBVA shareholders vote on?
Following the 2019 presentations of BBVA executive chairman and CEO, BBVA shareholders will first vote on, as per the meeting agenda, the approval of the company’s annual accounts and management report, its non-financial information statement, the fiscal year allocation of the 2019 profit, and the approval of corporate management in 2019.
In addition, the bank's shareholders will vote on the re-election of two board members (Lourdes Maíz Carro and Susana Rodríguez Vidarte); and on the appointment of new board members (Raúl Catarino Galamba de Oliveira, Ana Leonor Revenga Shanklin, and Carlos Vicente Salazar Lomelín).
The third item on the agenda will have shareholders vote on whether to approve a performance bonus of up to 200 percent of fixed compensation for a specific group of employees, whose responsibilities have a significant impact on BBVA Group’s risk profile.
Fourth on the agenda is the proposed re-election of BBVA’s auditors for fiscal year 2020.
The fifth iteml up for vote is a recurring item and entails conferring the Board of directors the authority to enter into, modify, interpret, and execute the agreements adopted at the Annual General Meeting.
Finally, there will be a consultative vote on the annual board member compensation report.