Home Local News Carrión enters race for IOC top post
Issued : Wednesday, May 22, 2013 11:00 PM
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Carrión enters race for IOC top post

By : KEVIN MEAD

Popular Inc. CEO & President Richard Carrión on Wednesday officially announced his candidacy to lead the International Olympic Committee.

Carrión, who heads Puerto Rico’s biggest bank, becomes the third hopeful to enter the race to replace IOC President Jacques Rogge, who steps down in September after 12 years as president. The entry of the Popular chief, who is chairman of the IOC Finance Commission and an IOC member since 1990, heralds the start of a four-month campaign to take the helm of the multibillion-dollar global industry.

IOC vice-presidents Thomas Bach of Germany and Ng Ser Miang of Singapore were the first two members to enter the race earlier this month. Amateur boxing association chief C.K. Wu of Taiwan has reportedly informed Rogge of his intention to run, but has yet to announce his candidacy. Another likely contender is Sergei Bubka of Ukraine, the former pole vault champion who still holds the world record in the event.

The election will be held by secret ballot among the 100-plus IOC members on Sept. 10 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rogge, who succeeded Juan Antonio Samaranch in 2001, steps down that month.

Carrión’s candidacy was announced in letters to IOC members and a regulatory filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. A press conference was scheduled for noon Wednesday on a move that was anticipated by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS online some two years ago.

In the months leading up to the IOC election, Carrión will continue to serve as the president, CEO and chairman of the board of directors of Popular. In the event that Carrión is elected IOC president, he will remain with Popular as board chairman and the board of directors will appoint a new president and CEO.

“This is a very personal decision that I have been carefully considering for some time and have concluded that it is something that I want to pursue. I am confident that we have developed a very deep and well-balanced senior management team,” Carrión said. “Regardless of the outcome of this election, I look forward to continue to participate in the future growth and success of Popular.”

Carrión has led the growth and development of Popular, Inc. for more than 30 years, steering it through particularly turbulent times over the past several years and positioning the bank for success in the future. At the same time, Carrión has been a member of the IOC since 1990 and has played key roles at the organization during his time there, particularly in negotiating global television rights to the games and other measures that have helped to significantly increase IOC reserves over the past 10 years.

Carríon pointed to the recent appointments of Carlos Vázquez as Popular’s chief financial officer, Lidio Soriano as chief risk officer and Ignacio Alvarez as chief legal officer as evidence of the financial company’s solid management.

“The board supports Richard in this endeavor. We have known that this was a possibility for over a year given his passion for the Olympic Movement, and have planned accordingly,” said William Teuber, the lead director on Popular’s board of directors said. “The board will continue working diligently to advance its existing succession planning process in order to secure a smooth transition in the event he is elected IOC president. We have a number of strong internal candidates and would also consider external candidates to succeed Richard should he be elected President of the IOC. If Richard is successful with his candidacy, Popular will continue to benefit from Richard’s unique experience and strategic leadership in his new role as non-executive chairman.”

In March, Carrión was elected take over a slot reserved for large banks on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He filled a seat left open last year by the exit of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Carrión has been a New York Fed director since 2008 in a slot reserved for smaller banks. He was nominated for the new seat by the board.

Popular, the holding company for Banco Popular and Popular Community Bank, closed 2012 with full-year net income $245.2 million, up sharply from the $151.3 million net posted in 2011. Puerto Rico’s biggest bank continues to find solid footing as the island economy crawls out of a marathon recession.

Founded in 1893, Popular Inc. is the leading banking institution by both assets and deposits in Puerto Rico and ranks 37th by assets among U.S. banks. In the United States, Popular has established a community-banking franchise, doing business as Popular Community Bank, providing a broad range of financial services and products with branches in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida and California.

More than 2 decades experience in IOC

Carrión, the 60-year-old leader of Popular Inc., had remained tight-lipped about his aspirations in the IOC despite speculation that he would enter the race in a bid that would break the European stranglehold on the top Olympic job.

An IOC member for nearly a quarter century, Carrión played an increasingly prominent role in the IOC after his election to the executive board in 2004. Appointed chairman of the IOC Finance Commission in 2002, he has headed negotiations of Olympic TV broadcast rights for the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia that aggregate to more than $8 billion in funding revenues for the Olympic Movement.

Broadcast rights account for two thirds of IOC revenues and for nearly 50 percent of funds granted by the IOC to organizations throughout the Olympic Movement to support the staging of the Olympic Games and to promote the worldwide development of sport.

Last year, Carrión and the IOC sealed a $4.38 billion deal with NBC to keep the Olympics at the network through 2020 in a new four-games pact. He has also been credited with putting the IOC on more solid financial footing.

Carríon said negotiating broadcast rights in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia during the last decade provided him a broad view of the movement, as well as a narrow focus on its essential needs to ensure its independence.

“With more than 20 years of active involvement in the Olympic Movement, more than 30 years of business and management experience running a leading financial institution, and participation in many other organizations, I am confident I have the skills to lead the Olympic Movement in the years to come and the experience to perceive and assess the complex and changing dynamics of present times,” Carrión said.

A solid foundation, but big challenges ahead

Carrión touted important progress at the IOC under Rogge’s vision of promoting transparency and equal opportunity. The outgoing president’s “impressive legacy” includes improved governance, a stronger financial position and vital partnerships to perpetuate Olympic values around the world, he said.

“It is also more important than ever that we continue charting a strong course for the future,” Carrión said. “I have taken this important step because it is unmistakably clear that there are some big challenges that must be addressed to keep building on this foundation.”

He said the Olympic Movement faces numerous ongoing threats and recent social upheavals across the world add a series of new ones, including: deep economic and fiscal strains that can lead to consequential impacts on sports across countries of all sizes; the increasing complexity of staging the Olympic Games and its effect on future bids for host cities; the rise of illegal betting on sports; growing rate of inactivity and obesity among youth.

“I decided to become a candidate because I firmly believe facing these challenges and thriving under new global conditions will require leadership that presents a clear and unifying vision, demonstrates firmness of purpose, ensures effective execution and promotes an environment of communication and collaboration,” Carrión said.

A platform based on cooperation

“Given what is at stake in this election, it is important that our next president be clear and transparent about what his or her program will be,” Carríon said. “To develop this agenda, I have traveled the world to listen to many IOC members, athletes and leaders in the sports world and carefully studied the issues.”

In outlining his plan, he stressed the importance of long-term, results-oriented strategies for IOC projects moving forward.

The candidate’s platform rests on four main pillars starting with his vision of a multi-partner approach to achieve universality. He sees the IOC’s United Nations observer status and partnerships with non-governmental organizations as avenues for the IOC to achieve tangible objectives of universality and sports development.

Secondly, Carrión would create a new special fund for sports education and development, which would rest on improving the effectiveness of the IOC’s revenue-distribution models.

In addition, Carrión envision bringing some functions of organizing Olympic Games in-house, identifying areas where the IOC can implement models based on the successful structure of the Olympic Broadcasting Services.

Finally, Carrión’s platform calls for enhancing the structure of the IOC to maximize the expertise, goodwill and diversity of its membership by expanding internal communications and encouraging an even more active participation from all members. At the same time, he said giving continuity to the 2000 reforms, which helped strengthen the IOC structure, is vital to ensure that the rules remain relevant.

“Throughout my career, people who have worked with me will tell you I believe that collaboration and cooperation are essential to achieve the best possible results. As president, I will listen to all members, no matter how big or small the country they come from,” Carrión said. “Listening and building consensus is vital to any organization, but even more so for the IOC, whose strength lies in uniting people of different backgrounds around Olympic values.”

Olympic values at core of campaign

Carrión said the most important thing he brings to the table is an unwavering commitment to the values at the core of the movement — friendship, excellence and respect.

“These values have for more than a hundred years inspired not only athletes, but also men, women and children all around the world,” he said. “We have a responsibility to continue defending and promoting these values by working tirelessly to realize Pierre de Coubertin’s vision that the practice of sport is a human right. “

These core values are increasingly important to youth in a rapidly changing world, he said.

“We must embrace this ever changing reality and keep innovating and evolving, or risk becoming less relevant to this and future generations. Our place in the world is not guaranteed,” Carrión said.

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