long have you been playing golf?
I've been playing for two and a half years now. My friend Hernâni Teixeira spent many years trying to convince me, but I always thought that Ididn't have the life for this and I admit that I saw the sport on television and didn't think much of it. When I left government he continued to pester me and then one day I gave into the pressure (he laughs). It is indeed addictive. In a good way.
What lessons in life can be taken from golf?
First of all that things depend a lot on us. Secondly, that things don't always work out well, and therefore you need to be able to live with adversity. And, thirdly, we learn that if things didn't work out well now, next time things will go better.
see yourself as an ambitious man?
If you define ambition as wanting to do more and always better, then yes, in this sense I am ambitious.
life lived up to your expectations?
It has. Fortunately, coming to this point in my life, I don't believe I have any reason to complain. I feel that I have managed to evolve, whether in personal terms, or in professional terms and, in general, the things I have done have left me satisfied. Even in difficult times, in which not everything went well, in which I would have liked things to have gone differently, I have always striven to give it my all and do my best, given the circumstances.
having to ask for financial aid for Portugal one of these difficult moments?
Without a doubt, without a doubt! We went through moments of great difficulty. The international situation was very complicated. The perception that finance, both from the state and from banking, was becoming increasingly more difficult, in the situation in which we were living then, pointed towards the fact that we take no more risks. We couldn't depend exclusively on the financing of the market because it was very difficult and hence the need for us to have to request help from international institutions, in this case on a European scale and also from the IMF (International Monetary Fund). And, as we were able to see afterwards, these situations always place the country under external authority, which is politically troublesome and which, in a way, offends our sense of sovereignty and of independence, from a political and national point of view. It is always very severe and it is never an easy decision, hence there is always a great deal of resistance to taking one of these decisions, because it is something that can only be decided in extremis.
this mean you suffered some restless nights?
Yes, they were difficult nights, without a doubt, with a great deal of weighing things up, but the decision had to be taken and I don't regret it. I am convinced that if the country had not taken that decision, at the time, it would be in a much more complicated situation today.
your relationship with José Sócrates, following this?
It became a distant relationship. At the time, he was aware of the difficulties and of the implications of the decision. That's why he resisted it. It wasn't something that pleased him and which affected our personal relationship, which afterwards improved with time. Time always helps to get over things and to look at things differently. But I haven't spoken to him for a long time now.
someone who gets easily stressed?
I suffer under the pressure of situations, but I don't get stressed. I try to stay calm; I don't tend to lose my head and I am fully aware that this doesn't help in any way. Complicated moments require a great deal from you and losing your composure isn't going to help you resolve things. At difficult moments, when the people who are working with you feel that the person in charge is starting to lose their head, they become affected. Therefore you have to appear confident, that you are weighing things up, that you are in control; this is the best way for them to be able to respond.
José Sócrates someone who annoys people?
Sometimes. (he smiles)
you surprised when you were asked to be the CEO of Banco BIC Portugal? Why did you decide to accept?
It's still a surprise. I decided to accept because it is an area with which I have had contact, many years ago now, when I was treasury secretary, when I was on the CMVM (Portuguese Securities Market Commission), as a minister I always kept an eye on the situation in the financial sector and in particular banking. Secondly, I accepted because I think that it is an interesting challenge, for two reasons: one, because this is a relatively young institution in the Portuguese banking system, for this reason it has to make an effort to get its stake and to affirm itself; two, because it is a challenge taking place in a particularly difficult situation for banking in general, as we have come to see. Therefore, it's not going to be an easy task; I'm aware of this, but I've also got used to facing some difficult scenarios. The challenge, for the institution itself and for the context we find ourselves in, will require a huge effort in terms of team work. And I hope to be able to lead the team that will be at the forefront of BIC.
not see any conflict of interest in the fact that you played a role in the
nationalisation of BPN?
There is no conflict of interest whatsoever, not least because I was never linked to the bank's administration; I only had to the take a political decision at the time, in a situation of great difficulty, in particular of the then BPN, which was a serious risk for the stability of the financial system. I wasn't responsible for the selling of BPN to BIC. I was not involved in this process and so I don't feel any conflict of interest.
the government at the time commit itself to selling BPN, in a short space of
time, when it knew that it would be hard?
What happened was that we were doing our utmost to abide by a commitment that had been made. BPN bank was nationalised to prevent the financial situation from worsening. We nationalised it to quickly return the bank to the private sector. It's not always easy to sell a bank. Selling it and selling it within a deadline, just so that we can meet a timeline that we had set ourselves, taking the risk of making a poor sale, makes no sense, and so for this very reason you have to wait for more favourable conditions for the sale of a financial body, as was the case of BPN and as is the case currently, with Novo Banco.
then make the commitment at the time?
It's obvious that BPN was nationalised, but this wasn't to stay in the state sector, it was the political message that we wanted to give. We weren't entering a phase of nationalisations in which the state was going to have the financial system on a leash. No. Hence the need to say: we have nationalised, but we are going to privatise. The state doesn't want to own banking and this was the political message that wanted to be given.
«I hope to be able to lead the team that will be at the forefront of BIC»