Facing regulatory pressure related to its governance and lending practices, the subprime auto lender Santander Consumer USA has appointed Blythe Masters, a former longtime executive at JPMorgan Chase, its chairwoman.
Ms. Masters, 46, who left JPMorgan last year and now heads a Bitcoin-related start-up, joins the board of Santander Consumer less than two weeks after it announced abruptly that its chief executive had resigned.
Santander Consumer — a unit of the Spanish giant Banco Santander that is based in Dallas — has faced questions about its oversight after regulatory stumbles with the Federal Reserve and an investigation into its securitization of its auto loans.
One of the company’s founders, Thomas Dundon, stepped down as chairman and chief executive at the start of the month, taking home more than $900 million as part of his exit. The company said that Mr. Dundon, who helped found the company that eventually became Santander Consumer more than two decades ago, decided to step down as part of a long-term succession plan and left on amicable terms. Mr. Dundon was succeeded as chief by the company’s president, Jason A. Kulas, but remains on the board.
In March, Ms. Masters became chief executive of Digital Asset Holdings, a small company looking to use Bitcoin’s underlying technology to streamline financial transactions. In a statement on Wednesday, Ms. Masters said Santander Consumer USA “has an impressive history of growth and entrepreneurship that will serve it well as it builds foundations for the future.”
Ms. Masters was a star at JPMorgan, rising quickly through the ranks to become a managing director at 28, then the youngest woman in the bank’s history to reach that rank.
She is credited with helping to pioneer credit default swaps, financial instruments that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis. Most recently, Ms. Masters ran JPMorgan’s giant commodities unit. She left the bank in April 2014 among struggles in the commodities business broadly.
While known for her stellar financial acumen and innovative thinking, in some ways Ms. Masters seems a curious choice for chairwoman of Santander Consumer USA, which, like Santander Holdings USA, its parent company, is seeking to improve its regulatory status. Santander Holdings has failed the Federal Reserve’s annual stress test for two consecutive years.
While running the commodities business at JPMorgan, Ms. Masters came under regulatory scrutiny from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2013 for statements she made about some problematic trading activity. At the time, the bank disputed that Ms. Masters had acted inappropriately.
In a statement, T. Timothy Ryan Jr., chairman of Santander Holdings USA, said, “Ms. Masters’s global financial experience and leadership in U.S. banking aligns well with our broad development strategy and objectives for Santander’s business in the U.S.”
Ms. Masters, 46, who left JPMorgan last year and now heads a Bitcoin-related start-up, joins the board of Santander Consumer less than two weeks after it announced abruptly […]