Santander general counsel steps down following UK panel review

Santander’s general counsel and company secretary Karen Fortunato has left the bank, following a review of the lender’s UK legal panel.

Fortunato’s role has now been split, with human resources head Simon Lloyd taking on a dual role of general counsel and chief people officer. Former deputy company counsel Shaun Coles assumed the full position of company secretary last month.

The UK main panel, which was reviewed over the summer, covers work carried out on Santander’s behalf in the UK. A separate annual review of the bank’s third party spend panel – also known as its corporate and commercial banking panel – concluded at the beginning of this year.

“As with any prudent organisation, Santander regularly reviews its legal panels and law firm arrangements to ensure they remain fit for purpose,” said the bank in a statement. “As to be expected, some firms leave and some new firms join the panel.

“We are confident the overall make-up of the panel will be appropriate for our business needs.”

The bank last reviewed its UK panel in 2011, turning to online procurement company Aquanima to handle the three month competitive tender process.

As Legal Week reported today (10 November), the Royal Bank of Scotland is poised to invite law firms to pitch for its UK panel review, which is likely to see cuts to law firms with a limited City presence.