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Coronavirus Act. 31 Mar 2020

Carlos Torres Vila: "We have to step up and make a difference to help society"

BBVA’s Group executive chairman said that the bank has to “step up and make a difference” to do everything in its power to “save lives, mitigate the economic impact, and help others overcome these difficult times.” Carlos Torres Vila also announced that as an act of responsibility with society, customers and clients, shareholders and employees in the current context, “Those of us running the bank on a global level and in the different countries have decided to give up all variable compensation in the year 2020.” In a video made for employees, he maintained that BBVA is facing the COVID-19 crisis from a position of strength.

First, Carlos Torres Vila offered words of support for his employees, especially those impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another.

The bank’s Group executive chairman recognized that the COVID-19 health crisis “has forced us to take measures that will have a severe economic impact in order to save lives.” He added that to mitigate the effects and prepare for a strong recovery, worldwide  authorities are taking “powerful measures — measures that we had never seen before.” This recovery, he maintained, “will surely come after the fall. We have to be prepared for it.” He also stressed the importance of “coordinated efforts of everyone, authorities, supervisors, companies and society as a whole.”

BBVA’s Group executive chairman, Carlos Torres Vila. - BBVA

Carlos Torres Vila underscored the financial sector’s role at this time. “We must do everything in our power, which is meaningful, to help deal with this situation and we will certainly overcome this crisis because banks are an important part of the solution,” he indicated. BBVA’s Group executive chairman called for living out the bank’s values to “help society. We have to step up and make a difference. We can do it, and we must do it.”

Therefore, the bank has taken many different measures in all countries where it operates. In the short term, it has contributed “medical equipment and other direct aid.” Carlos Torres Vila recalled the initial donation of €25 million recently announced by the bank: “Our final contribution is going to come closer to €35 million because the entire organization has worked hard on this,” he emphasized. BBVA’s Group executive chairman also pointed to bank employees’ contributions to this cause through several campaigns around the world. And this translates into the purchase of “vital supplies” to help the sick, such as surgical masks and respirators “amid severe shortage” — which are on their way.

Carlos Torres Vila: “We have to step up and make a difference. We can do it, and we must do it”

Carlos Torres Vila also thanked employees for their work and dedication “in these difficult circumstances.” BBVA’s Group executive chairman reiterated the priorities in this context: “Our health, the health of our families and our clients is, of course, the most important thing,” he affirmed, but “the second most important thing is this, to continue providing our services and supporting our clients.”
For BBVA, anticipation is key. For this reason, it promoted remote work from the very beginning. Carlos Torres Vila announced that the number of employees working from home is currently more than 70,000, which accounts for more than half of BBVA’s workforce worldwide (90 percent of central services employees and 50 percent of branch employees). BBVA’s Group executive chairman had special words of thanks for the employees who go to the branches every day to work: “We owe you a huge thanks for your commitment, your dedication.”

BBVA, a strong bank in the COVID-19 crisis

Carlos Torres Vila recognized that the COVID-19 crisis will have a negative impact on the economy, and also “on our income statement”. In this regard, he sent a very clear message: “BBVA is a solid bank, a strong bank” with a “comfortable capital and liquidity position. And this is not the first time we have faced a crisis. Our strengths have been demonstrated on previous occasions,” he stressed. And he recalled that BBVA was one of the few European banks that did not report losses in any of the years following the 2008 crisis. Furthermore, in the annual stress tests on European banks, BBVA has always stood out “for the resilience of our results, for our capital in the face of potential situations of economic recession.” And this, he underscored, is “thanks to our diversified business model, the recurrence of our income, our profitability, our efficiency.”

And it is precisely this strength that has forced BBVA to “step up and make a difference,” said the Group executive chairman. “We have to keep working to protect economic activity, protect jobs, supporting our customers and suppliers,” he added. In this regard, he listed several of the measures that the bank has already adopted to mitigate the pandemic’s economic impact on its customers, such as flexibility for loan payments, suspending certain fees and offering financing for the self-employed, SMEs and companies.

“BBVA is a solid bank, a strong bank” with a “comfortable capital and liquidity position

Ultimately, BBVA’s purpose, which is ‘Creating Opportunities’, means “using our strength, our management skills, our resources, and our talent to save lives, to mitigate the economic impact, to help others overcome these difficult times”.

At the same time, “We have to manage the impact that all this is going to have on the bank, we have to ensure sufficient liquidity, we have to control costs, we have to conserve capital, prioritizing solvency, he explained “so that we can support the economy with more financing” and “do everything we can to protect everyone’s job at BBVA.” With these goals in mind, “As a gesture of responsibility with society, our customers, shareholders, and all of our employees, those of us running the bank on a global level and in the different countries have decided to give up all variable compensation in the year 2020.”

Finally, Carlos Torres Vila offered a message of hope to his employees: “Thanks to everyone, we will overcome this crisis sooner rather than later, and we will have grown as individuals and as a society,” he concluded.

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