BBVA bosses to forego bonuses to help with coronavirus crisis

MADRID (Reuters) - BBVA BBVA.MC on Monday said senior management would forego more than 50 million euros in bonuses for 2020 as part of the Spanish bank's efforts to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis but it made no announcement on dividend policy.

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The European Central Bank has urged euro zone banks to skip dividend payments and share buybacks until the start of October at the earliest and use profits instead to boost capital to cushion against losses and to lend.

BBVA said it would focus on controlling costs, managing liquidity, conserve capital and prioritise solvency, without giving any details about the bank’s dividend policy.

A BBVA spokesman said around 300 senior staff, including chairman Carlos Torres and chief executive officer Onur Genç, would give up 50 million euros (44.57 million pounds) in bonuses.

“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,” Torres said in a statement.

Other European banks, such as UniCredit CRDI.MI and BBVA's main Spanish rival Santander SAN.MC, have publicly said they would put their dividend policy on hold or under review to better assess the impact from the disease.

On Monday, Spain overtook China’s number of coronavirus cases while the country’s death toll rose to 7,340

BBVA’s action on bonuses echoes a decision by Caixabank’s CEO to waive his 2020 bonus. Last week, Santander also said its top executives would take a 50% pay cut.

Torres said that the coronavirus crisis would have an negative impact on the economy and on the bank’s income statement, without giving more details.

BBVA also said it was aiming to contribute up to 35 million euros as part of the bank’s efforts to help with donations of medical equipment or direct aid.

($1 = 0.9044 euros)

Reporting By Jesús Aguado; editing by Emma Pinedo and Jane Merriman