TAP continues to face difficult times and Christine Ourmières-Widener’s leadership will not have an easy future, especially after it became known that the airline led by TAP’s CEO, British regional Flybe, was going bankrupt. For now, it seems to be firmly in the Portuguese company and has even waved a prize at the end of 2025 if it succeeds in successfully completing the restructuring process that, according to Correio da Manhã, should yield two million euros. But as the current leader goes through this turbulent phase, a name is emerging in the corridors as the best manager to run the aviation company: Paulo Macedo, current president of Caixa Geral de Depósitos.
Macedo began to make a name for himself in the public sphere as Director General of Taxation and Chairman of the Tax Board, as one of the faces responsible for modernizing the tax system.
At the time, Finance Minister Teixeira dos Santos admitted that “people are important”, but underlined that “it is above all necessary that services function efficiently”, admitting that he was “the first to recognize the merit of Paulo Macedo’s work on the head of the Directorate General of Taxes (DGCI)”, but guaranteed that “the best tribute” that can be paid to him “is not to deify him, nor to transform him into a D. Sebastião of the tax system , but recognize that the administration has changed”.
But his real transition into politics came with his appointment as health minister, a position he held from 2011 to 2015, at a time when the country was facing a financial bailout and had to implement the memorandum of understanding with the troika. The goal was simple: to strictly control government spending on the National Health Service. A work that caused him to receive criticism, but also almost consensual praise for his management abilities.
He excels in banking But it was in banking – first at BCP, where he spent part of his career – that he reaped great rewards for his reputation. And now more recently at Caixa Geral de Depósitos, where he is in his second term.
Years and years of losses lie behind us, statements such as those of former administrator José de Matos (who took over the leadership of Caixa in 2011) who even compared the state-owned bank to an “oil tanker that is difficult to move” and EY’s controversial authorship to the management of CGD between 2000 and 2015, forcing the bank, now headed by Paulo Macedo, to make sweeping changes: implementing a new risk analysis model when granting credit, strengthening the independence of the person responsible for risk management and create a rating for strengthening control over corporate loan portfolios.
As soon as Paulo Macedo took charge in February 2017, the public bank turned a profit again. That year, Caixa posted a positive result of EUR 52 million, fulfilling the CEO’s promise: the public bank would only have positive results once the full restructuring had been completed. A year in which the financial institution has committed itself to continue with “thorough cost-cutting measures” and with the restructuring of its international operations. This involved the reduction of 2218 employees and the closure of 181 branches.
The following year, under the leadership of Paulo Macedo, the bank’s profits almost increased tenfold to 496 million euros. An increase that led Rui Vilar to guarantee that he had returned to shareholder compensation. It concerned the distribution of dividends in the order of 200 million euros.
The year 2019 marks CGD by presenting the best result ever. The financial institution posted a profit of 776 million euros, an increase of 56.5% compared to last year, when it presented 496 million euros.
The financial institution partly justified the good performance with “the extraordinary result of 144 million euros” related to the sale of international subsidiaries, namely Banco Caixa Geral (in Spain) and Mercantile (in South Africa). Thanks to these sales, CGD was able to reverse the write-downs made in 2017.
The same scenario was repeated in 2020 with a profit of 492 million euros, still a decrease of 36.5% compared to last year. The public bank acknowledged that this drop was due to the effects of the pandemic, which forced the institution led by Paulo Macedo to take impairments of 300 million euros.
The profit story repeated itself in 2021 with an increase in profit of 18.7% to 583 million euros. Nevertheless, it lagged behind the figures presented before the pandemic: in 2019 it made a profit of 776 million euros.
The results for the year 2022 are not yet known, but showed a profit increase of 61% to 692 million euros in the first nine months of the year and the public bank is thinking of paying the “biggest dividend in history” to the taxpayer in the order of 286 million euros with respect to the activity up to September.
But it is true that the formula for success is based on reducing structure and increasing commissions. This goal is rarely flexible to change, as several people who encountered it admit (see pages 4/5). Controversy was the collection of passbooks and the ending of maintenance exemptions for most products. And the numbers speak for themselves: commissions alone increased by almost 11% to 459 million euros, but Paulo Macedo guaranteed that he will not increase commissions this year.