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Popular Auto chief José Arbona to retire Sept. 30

By on August 24, 2020

Ponce Towne Center branch (Courtesy)

Bank veteran Antolín Velasco to take helm of vehicle financing, leasing subsidiary  

SAN JUAN – Popular Inc. has announced that José Arbona, president of Popular Auto, will retire on Sept. 30 after more than 25 years in the automobile financing business in Puerto Rico. 

Popular Inc. President and CEO Ignacio Álvarez said that Arbona joined Popular Auto in 2018 with Popular Inc.’s acquisition of Reliable Financial. 

José Arbona (Courtesy)

“José successfully led the integration of Popular Auto and Reliable, further strengthening our position and achieving significant growth in this important business,” Álvarez said in a statement. “José is highly respected within Popular and in the automotive industry. It has been a privilege to have him as part of our team and we wish him the best in this new stage that is beginning.” 

Antolín Velasco (Courtesy)

Antolín Velasco has been named to be the new president of Popular Auto upon Arbona’s exit, Álvarez said. Velasco has worked more than 25 years at Popular Inc., occupying several positions at Puerto Rico’s largest financial institution, including a stint as head of Popular Auto between 2014 and 2018. 

“We are confident that [Velasco] will take advantage of the solid team that he currently has to continue providing excellent service to our clients and ensure that Popular remains the undisputed leader in the car financing business on the island,” the Popular Inc. chief said. 

Álvarez also announced that the commercial auto credit business will be transferred to the Commercial Credit Group, led by Néstor Vale, reporting directly to Eli Sepúlveda, executive vice president of Popular Inc. Commercial Credit.  

“This consolidation will simplify dealership credit approval processes and expand Popular’s commercial business, while remaining an integral part of the auto financing business,” Álvarez said. 

Popular Inc.’s held-in-portfolio auto loans totaled $2.9 billion at the end of the second quarter this year on June 30, according to its recently released financial results for the second quarter. This is 1.7 percent, or $49.8 million, lower than the first quarter auto loan portfolio total, but 3.9 percent, or $107.9 million, higher than the auto loan portfolio for the end of the second quarter in 2019. 

The financial institution’s lease financing portfolio totaled $1.1 billion at the end of the second quarter. This is 0.9 percent, or $9.7 million higher, than in the first quarter, and 10.8 percent, or $106.6 million, greater than in the second quarter of 2019. 

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