Former president of Telefónica César Alierta dies at 78

Suffering from respiratory problems.

Former president of Telefónica César Alierta dies at 78

Suffering from respiratory problems


The one who was executive president of Telefónica from July 2000 to April 2016, César Alierta, died this afternoon in Zaragoza, sources familiar with the death confirmed to Europa Press.

The same sources indicated that Alierta had remained in a hospital in the Aragonese capital since last Christmas suffering from respiratory problems. In recent years he had gone through various health problems.

During his time as chief executive of the telecommunications group, Alierta also chaired the Business Council for Competitiveness, whose main objective was to defend the image of the Spanish economy and companies abroad.

César Alierta, who would have turned 79 in May of this year, began his professional career at Banco Urquijo and in mid-1985 founded Beta Capital. In June 1996 he was appointed by José María Aznar as president of the then public company Tabacalera.

Throughout his career he has received many recognitions, such as the 'Global Spanish Entrepreneur' award given to him by the Spain-United States Chamber of Commerce in 2005, or the 'Gold Medal' from the 'Americas Society' in 2010 for his contribution to the growth and development of Latin America, making him the first Spaniard and the first person born outside the American continent to receive this award.

During the presidency of César Alierta, Telefónica went from being a prominent player in the telecommunications sector in Spain and Latin America to becoming a leader in the main markets of the company's strategic commitment, that is, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Spanish America.

During his mandate, Alierta made strategic decisions that "turned into a trend" in the 'teleco' sector, such as the amortization of the licenses of the universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS) or the creation of Telefónica Digital, a division that in July Last year it merged with Telefónica I D to create Telefónica Innovación Digital.

In 2012, he appointed José María Álvarez-Pallete as CEO of Telefónica with a view to succeeding him as president of the operator, which finally happened on April 8, 2016.

"After assuming global day-to-day operations from his position as CEO of the company, Alierta has considered Álvarez-Pallete as the manager best prepared to facilitate the replacement and once again position Telefónica at the forefront, this time from the digital sector," the company noted in 2016.

Despite stepping aside, Alierta continued to be linked to the operator as president of the Telefónica Foundation, a position he held until 2022, the year in which Álvarez-Pallete replaced him, although he remained linked to the organization as its patron. .

In 2016, the same year in which he gave way to José María Álvarez-Pallete as president of Telefónica, Alierta also left his position on the board of directors of IAG, an airline holding company of which he became the second largest individual shareholder. .

In fact, he was one of the six directors who represented Iberia in 2010 in the airline's integration with British Airways to form IAG.

Then, the board of directors of the resulting group had six members from Iberia and eight from British Airways.

Thus, Alierta was part of the 'Spanish group' of the first board of directors of IAG, which also included the then president of Caja Madrid and already former minister and former vice president of the Government, Rodrigo Rato, and the one who at that time was CEO of Iberia, Rafael Sánchez-Lozano, among others.

In this sense, Alierta was president of the Remuneration Committee and member of the IAG Appointments Committee.

Alierta was also the largest shareholder of his hometown soccer team, Real Zaragoza, between 2019 and 2022, when he sold 51% of the shares he owned in the team to the current investment group led by the Mas Santos brothers and in which Among others, the founder of Amber Capital and president of Prisa, Joseph Oughourlian, participate.

In fact, for several seasons Telefónica has been a sponsor of Real Zaragoza and the company's logo appeared on the team's shirt.

On the other hand, in June 1996 Alierta was appointed president of the then public company Tabacalera by José María Aznar. During the mandate of the Zaragoza director, the privatization process of the entity was carried out and it merged with the French firm Seita to form Altadis.

His tenure at Tabacalera was also accompanied by controversy due to an alleged case of insider information use.

However, in 2009 the Provincial Court of Madrid acquitted Alierta and his nephew Luis Plácer of the accusation of use of privileged information for the 'Tabacalera case' by accepting the statute of limitations for the crime.

"We must and do absolve César Alierta and Luis Plácer, for having expired, of the crime of use of privileged information of articles 285 and 286 of the Penal Code for which they had been accused, as well as the rest of the claims made against them" , according to the ruling of the sentence.

Specifically, the prosecutor in the case accused Alierta and Plácer of "using privileged information to avoid bearing the risks that other investors have" and of benefiting from their position to obtain 1.86 million euros from the purchase and sale of Tabacalera shares in 1997.