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Within a year of Karen Fortunato taking the helm as Abbey’s legal chief the bank hit the headlines after it became the subject of an £8.75bn takeover bid by Spain’s Banco Santander.
Despite the bid it was business as usual for Fortunato as she continued to pursue a radical overhaul of Abbey’s legal function. As first reported by The Lawyer (13 September), Abbey set out to tackle both its external advisers and its in-house legal team.
The move followed a restructure of Abbey’s legal function at the beginning of 2004, which resulted in a staff reduction from 90 to 50. The restructure was to create a legal department with more senior lawyers and to align it more with Abbey’s business model.
With the takeover now complete, all eyes will be on Abbey’s in-house lawyers to see what impact the Santander deal will have on Fortunato and her legal team. Whatever the outcome, Fortunato is bound to land on her feet.