Spain moves to ease exit of companies out of Catalonia
Catalonia-based banks that are among Spain's biggest may move from region
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 said Friday it will move its base from Barcelona to Valencia amid political uncertainty.
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."
Spanish stocks down
Spain's main stock index closed down slightly, with Catalan banks leading losses amid uncertainty over the region's independence bid.
The Ibex 35 index dipped by as much as one per cent on Friday before paring its losses to conclude with a loss of 0.29 per cent.
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 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.
Spain's central authorities have deemed the Catalonia referendum illegal. The vote went ahead on Oct. 1 anyway, despite a lack of census controls and violence by Spanish police who were trying to halt the vote.
The final numbers released Friday confirm earlier results showing 90 per cent of votes in favour of independence. The regional government said 2.28 million Catalans voted, 43 per cent of eligible voters. The No side received some eight per cent of the ballots.