Spain eases firms' exit from Catalonia

October 6, 2017
Source: BBC
Spain eases firms' exit from Catalonia

The Spanish cabinet has issued a decree making it easier for companies to relocate their legal headquarters away from Catalonia.

Such a decision will now not need the prior approval of shareholders.

One of the region's biggest lenders, Caixabank, is considering the change in the light of the political crisis there.

Another major Catalan bank - Sabadell - decided on Thursday to shift its legal domicile elsewhere in Spain.

The economy ministry said the decree was in response to demand from companies "in the face of difficulties that have arisen for the normal running of their activities in part of the national territory".

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) country head in Spain, Andrea Schaechter, has said tensions in Catalonia could affect confidence and investment decisions.

However, the IMF has kept its growth forecast for Spain this year unchanged at 3.1%.

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The board of Caixabank - which is Spain's third-largest bank and accounts for about half of Catalonia's banking sector - is due to meet later.

Earlier, Sabadell - which is the second-biggest bank in Catalonia and the fifth largest in Spain - said it had decided to move its legal base "in order to protect the interests of our customers, shareholders and employees".

It said it wanted to operate "under the supervision of the European Central Bank and the regulations of the European Banking Authority", something that would be removed were Catalonia to declare independence.

The European Union has said it will not recognise an independent Catalonia, which would mean the region would not be subject to EU rules nor protection.

Italian asset manager Banca Mediolanum followed Sabadell's move, saying it would shift the legal base of its Spanish unit to Valencia from Barcelona.