Caixabank to switch HQ out of Catalonia



MADRID (AP) Developments on Friday, Oct. 6, about Spain’s political crisis amid Catalonia’s push for independence (all times Central European Summer Time).

  • 7:00 p.m.

Caixabank, Spain’s third lender in global assets, said its executive board officials agreed to move its base from Barcelona to the eastern city of Valencia, outside the Catalonia region.

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 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 greenlighted a similar move.

  • 6:00 p.m.

The speaker of Catalonia’s regional parliament called for an evening session on Tuesday where the separatist regional leader would answer questions on the turbulent political situation.

Catalonia’s separatist authorities 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 rejected any negotiation on secession.

There was no mention of any vote in a call by speaker Carme Forcadell for the new session. Spain’s Constitutional Court 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 to introduce a vote on secession.

  • 5:45 p.m.

Catalan government officials said they 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 promised.

Spain’s central authorities deemed the referendum illegal and a Constitutional Court suspended it. A vote went ahead on Oct. 1 anyway, despite a lack of census controls and violence by Spanish police who tried to halt the vote.

The final numbers confirmed earlier results showing 90 percent of votes in favor of independence. Regional government officials 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 would address the regional government 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.

  • 4:50 p.m.

The CEO of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance said he was watching Catalonia’s political turmoil “very closely” because it could affect operations at a Nissan plant in Barcelona.

Carlos Ghosn told reporters in Paris that Nissan was 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.”

In a globalized car sector “no region of this kind can be economically autonomous. It must continue to deal with its environment,” he said.

The Barcelona plant is one of three Nissan sites in Spain. It employs 3,800 people and produces vans.

  • 3:15 p.m.

Spain’s government spokesman said “coexistence is broken,” with Catalonia, blaming separatist authorities in the northeastern region for pushing ahead with their independence bid.

Inigo Mendez de Vigo, who is also minister of cultural affairs, called on the Catalan regional government to drop its secessionist bid in order to begin a dialogue.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont wants to address the regional parliament in the coming 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.

“In order to have dialogue, you must stay within the legal framework.” Mendez de Vigo told reporters during a weekly briefing.

  • 3:00 p.m.

A top Spanish government official in Catalonia expressed regret about those injured when police cracked down on people taking part in a banned Oct. 1 referendum on the region’s independence.

Interior Ministry delegate in Catalonia, Enric Millo tempered the comments 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.

  • 2:45 p.m.

Spain’s government 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 would allow the relocation of Caixabank, Spain’s third largest bank by assets before separatist authorities in Catalonia decide to declare independence.

At least half a dozen companies, including the fifth-largest lender, Banco Sabadell, have already relocated or agreed to do so.

The moves had no immediate effect on jobs or company assets, but were seen as a blow to the Catalan government.

“This is the result of an irresponsible policy that is causing uneasiness in the business community.” Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said.

  • 2:10 p.m.

Spain’s main stock index was down slightly, with Catalan banks leading losses amid uncertainty over the region’s independence bid.

The Ibex 35 index lost 0.9 percent to 10.126 points in Madrid.

The biggest decliners were Banco Sabadell and Caixabank.

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 considering a move while telecommunications provider Eurona and biotech firm Oryzon completed their relocations.

The moves were seen as a blow to the Catalan government’s secession hopes.

  • 1:45 p.m.

Jordi Sanchez spoke after appearing at Spain’s National Court in Madrid as part of a sedition investigation.

He said the international community highlighted the need for dialogue and the Catalan government showed it was open to this without renouncing the results of the Oct. 1 referendum. Spain said the referendum was illegal, invalid and unconstitutional.

“I ask strongly that the Spanish government, the national parliament, and the head of state (the king) understand that time and the hours are very important to find a debated way out and give way to a political solution,” Sanchez said.

  • 1:15 p.m.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont made a request to address the regional parliament on Tuesday amid growing challenges for his government to deliver on a pledge to declare independence for the northeastern region following the disputed referendum.

The separatist ruling coalition suffered a setback on Thursday when Spain’s Constitutional Court suspended Monday’s plenary session of lawmakers to assess the vote’s results.

Puigdemont said the vote was valid despite a Constitutional Court ban to hold it and a turnout of some 40 percent of the region’s 5.5 million eligible voters.

Spain’s conservative government, which is under political and social pressure after police acted violently in trying to halt the banned vote, rejected any dialogue unless Catalans dropped plans for secession.

Tuesday’s address request was for Puigdemont to “report on the current political situation” according to a brief statement by his office officials.

The speakers’ board of Catalonia’s regional parliament announced an urgent meeting in which the address was likely to be discussed.

  • 12:35 p.m.

Two senior Catalan police officers and two leaders of pro-independence civic groups were unconditionally released after being questioned as part of an investigation for sedition linked to demonstrations in Barcelona in the run-up to the referendum on independence.

The four were ordered to reappear in a Madrid court in the coming days after a prosecutor presents new evidence.

The four are Catalan Police Chief Josep Lluis Trapero; Catalan Police Lt. Teresa Laplana, who was questioned by video link from Barcelona due to health reasons; Jordi Sanchez, the head of the Catalan National Assembly that has been the main civic group behind the independence movement; and Jordi Cuixart, president of separatist group Omnium Cultural.

  • 11:45 a.m.

Police Chief Trapero left Spain’s National Court in Madrid after being questioned for about an hour.

Trapero left on foot to some applause by Basque and Catalan party representatives and some insults from bystanders.