Telefónica has confirmed the passing of its former chairman César Alierta Izuel.

The Spanish telco stated that Alierta passed away today (January 10) at the age of 78 in Zaragoza, Spain.

– Telefónica

Born on May 5, 1945, in Zaragoza, Alierta graduated in Law from the University of Zaragoza and received an MBA from Columbia University (New York) in 1970.

Alierta was appointed executive chairman of Telefónica in July 2000, a position he held until April 2016.

Prior to this, he was chairman of the tobacco company Tabacalera, where he oversaw the cross-border merger with the French company Seita. This merger gave rise to Altadis, which he chaired until July 2000.

In January 1997, he was already a member of the Board of Directors of Telefónica.

Alierta was also chairman of the Remuneration Committee and member of the Appointments Committee of the Board of Directors of International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), member of the Board of Directors of China Unicom, chairman of the now-extinct Business Council for Competitiveness (CEC), and was also a member of the Columbia Business School Board of Overseers. He was also a member of the board of trustees of Fundación La Caixa, plus a full member of the Royal Academy of Economic and Financial Sciences of Spain.

“It is a sad day for the Telefónica family. We are all custodians of the immense legacy left to us by César Alierta, a passionate, intelligent, and courageous man with a heart that was wide open," said José María Álvarez-Pallete, chairman of Telefónica.

"His vision of the future and his intuition always led him to try to change the world for the better. His deep love for his native Zaragoza allowed him to take his homeland to all corners of the world. Thank you very much, dear friend."

All Telefónica employees are called to observe a minute’s silence in memory of Alierta tomorrow (January 11) at noon at the different Telefónica headquarters around the world.

During his earlier career, Alierta was general manager of the Capital Markets area at Banco Urquijo in Madrid between 1970 and 1985. Subsequently, he was founder-chairman of the company Beta Capital, a responsibility which he combined with the chairmanship of the Spanish Institute of Financial Analysts from 1991. He was also a member of the Board of Directors and the Standing Committee of the Madrid Stock Exchange.

DCD sends its condolences to the family and friends of César Alierta.