Nearly 1,200 firms moved their headquarters out of Catalonia

AgenciesUpdated: Monday, June 24, 2019, 11:06 AM IST
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People celebrate after the closing of the 'Espai Jove La Fontana' (La Fontana youth center) polling station, on October 1, 2017 in Barcelona. Spanish riot police stormed voting stations today as they moved to stop Catalonia's independence referendum after it was banned by the central government in Madrid. At least 92 people were confirmed injured as hundreds tried to prevent the polling stations from being closed, Catalan officials said. A total of 465 people were treated at hospitals and health centres, while Spain's interior ministry said 12 police officers were injured. / AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA |

Madrid: Nearly 1,200 companies of all sizes have shifted their legal headquarters out of Catalonia to other parts of Spain since the region held a banned independence referendum, Spain’s commercial registrar said on Friday.

Between October 2, the day after the contested vote, and October 19 a total of 1,185 companies have relocated hoping to minimise instability, according to figures published by the Commercial Registries of Spain. The peak was reached yesterday as 268 companies shifted their headquarters out of Catalonia.

Spain’s central government announced that day that it would start seizing some of the Catalan regional government’s powers after the region’s leader declared he could declare independence. During these three weeks only 52 companies set up shop in Catalonia, a region that accounts for about one-fifth of Spain’s economic output and is home to around half a million firms.

The companies that have moved their headquarters include listed firms such as CaixaBank, Spain’s third largest lender, and Gas Natural as well as medium as medium-sized firms such as food group Idilia Foods. A survey by a Catalan association for small and medium sized businesses, Pimec, found that around 1,300 companies that employ up to 250 people have decided to move they legal headquarters out of Catalonia without necessarily having started the administrative formalities.

About 35 per cent of the companies it surveyed said the crisis over Catalonia independence push has had a negative economic impact on them and 19 per cent said they have frozen their investments or intend to do so. About two percent of the companies said they had changed banks in recent weeks, without specifying if it was from a bank based in Catalonia to one elsewhere in Spain.

While there have been calls on social media in Spain for a boycott of Catalan products, such as cava sparkling wine, the head of Pimec, Josep Gonzalez, said during an interview with private television Antena 3 such campaigns “are not desirable for anyone”.

“Catalonia supplies goods to Spain, but Spain also buys, or sells, to Catalonia,” he added. Products made in Catalonia include a “significant percentage” of materials that are bought in other regions of Spain,” he said. “If we enter in a dynamic of boycott, it will hurt us all,” Gonzalez said. Spain’s central government has slashed its economic growth forecast for 2018 to 2.3 per cent because of the uncertainty sparked by Catalonia’s independence drive.

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