Spanish banking magnate Emilio Botin, who built the country's Banco Santander into a global financial giant, has died of a heart attack. He was 79.

Botin was known for his hands-on leadership of the bank and turned the small institution run by his father into the eurozone's largest by market capitalization through a series of acquisitions.

He also transformed it into a major banking player in Latin America. Botin rubbed shoulders frequently with Spanish and Latin American political leaders.

Bank parent company Grupo Santander said in a statement that the board will meet Wednesday to name Botin's successor as chairman.

A bank spokeswoman said he died Tuesday night after a heart attack at his home. She spoke on condition of anonymity because of company rules preventing her from being named.