Spain’s government has approved a decree that would make it easier for companies in Catalonia to move the location of their official registration out of the region. The move will allow the relocation of Caixabank, Spain’s third largest bank by assets, before next week, when separatist authorities in Catalonia want to declare independence.
Caixabank’s board is due to meet to discuss the issue. At least half a dozen companies, including the fifth-largest lender, Banco Sabadell, have already relocated or agreed to do so. The moves have no immediate effect on jobs or company assets, but are seen as a blow to the Catalan government.
Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said: “This is the result of an irresponsible policy that is causing uneasiness in the business community.”
Spain’s main stock index is down slightly, with Catalan banks leading losses amid uncertainty over the region’s independence bid. The Ibex 35 index lost 0.9% to 10.126 points in Madrid by midday on Friday.
The biggest fallers were Banco Sabadell, the country’s fifth-largest bank by assets, and Caixabank, Spain’s third-largest.
Two Catalan companies, textiles maker Dogi and reprographics company Service Point Solutions, saw their shares surge after they said they had plans to relocate.
Cava-maker Freixenet, a household name, is also considering a move while telecommunications provider Eurona and biotech firm Oryzon have already completed their relocations.
The moves are largely symbolic, with no immediate effect on jobs or company assets in Catalonia, but are seen as a blow to the Catalan government’s secession hopes.