The Latest: Caixabank to switch HQ out of Catalonia
Caixabank, Spain’s third lender in global assets, says its executive board has agreed to move its base from Barcelona to the eastern city of Valencia, outside the Catalonia region.
In a statement, the bank said the reason for the relocation was to “completely safeguard the legal and regulatory framework substantial for its activity” and to remain in the eurozone and under the supervision for the European Central Bank.
Regional separatist authorities in the northeastern region of Catalonia have pledged to declare independence regardless of Spain’s constitution and the opposition of central authorities in Madrid.
Caixabank’s move was possible after central authorities approved a decree allowing firms’ executives to bypass shareholders’ approval for moving its registered address. Half a dozen listed companies, including Banco Sabadell, have already greenlighted a similar move.
The speaker of Catalonia’s regional parliament has called a Tuesday evening session where the separatist regional leader will answer questions on the turbulent political situation.
Catalonia’s separatist authorities have vowed to use a pro-independence victory in a disputed referendum to go ahead with secession while calling for Spain’s central government to accept a dialogue.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has rejected any negotiation on secession.
There was no mention of any vote in Friday’s call by speaker Carme Forcadell for the new session. Spain’s Constitutional Court had suspended a Catalan parliament meeting set for Monday.
Opposition lawmakers called on separatist parties to respect the session’s agenda and to refrain from using the meeting for introducing a vote on secession.
The Catalan government says it has submitted to the regional parliament the final results of a disputed referendum on secession from Spain, a necessary step before declaring independence as separatist politicians have promised.
Spain’s central authorities have deemed the referendum illegal and a Constitutional Court suspended it. But a 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 confirm earlier results showing 90 percent of votes in favor of independence. The regional government said 2.28 million Catalans voted, 43 percent of eligible voters. The ‘No’ side received some 8 percent of the ballots.
Separatist Catalan president Carles Puigdemont will address the regional government on Tuesday to “report on the current political situation.” It was unclear if he or other separatist lawmakers would use the meeting to introduce a vote on declaring secession.
The CEO of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance says he is watching Catalonia’s political turmoil “very closely” because it could affect operations at its Nissan plant in Barcelona.
Carlos Ghosn told a news conference in Paris on Friday that Nissan is concerned about what the standoff between independence-minded Catalans and Spain’s central government “means in the long term in terms of circulation of parts, circulation of cars.”
He said in a globalized car sector, “no region of this kind can be economically autonomous. It must continue to deal with its environment.”
The Barcelona plant is one of three Nissan sites in Spain. It employs 3,800 people and produces vans, according to its website.
Spain’s government spokesman says that “coexistence is broken” with Catalonia, blaming separatist authorities in the northeastern region for pushing ahead with their independence bid.
Government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo, who is also minister of cultural affairs, called on the Catalan regional government Friday to drop its secessionist bid in order to begin a dialogue.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont wants to address the regional parliament next week “to discuss the political situation” in Catalonia despite Spain’s Constitutional Court suspending another session during which separatist lawmakers wanted to discuss and possibly vote for independence.
Mendez de Vigo told reporters during a weekly briefing that “in order to have dialogue, you must stay within the legal framework.”
A top Spanish government official in Catalonia has expressed regret about those injured when police cracked down on people taking part in a banned referendum on the region’s independence Oct. 1.
Interior Ministry delegate in Catalonia, Enric Millo tempered the comments Friday by saying the Catalan government was responsible for the situation by encouraging people to vote despite a Constitutional Court order suspending the referendum.
Millo’s remarks on Catalonia’s TV3 television station were the first by a Spanish official lamenting the injuries. Millo told reporters that on knowing there were people injured, “I can only say sorry.”
Spain defended the police action saying it was firm and proportionate.
Spain’s anti-riot squads fired rubber bullets, smashed into polling stations and beat protesters with batons to disperse voters on the day.
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 Friday to discuss the issue.