Catalan referendum: Economic turbulence begins as Sabadell bank mulls leaving the region

Sabadell is reportedly considering a number of alternative locations

Sabadell has branches across Spain, like this one seen in the Basque Country

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The economic fall-out from Catalonia's independence referendum has begun in earnest, with giant bank Sabadell considering quitting the region.

The bank has convened an extraordinary general meeting this afternoon (Thursday October 5) to decide whether or not to move its headquarters away from Barcelona if the wealthy region declares independence.

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia's regional president, has said he is ready to declare independence either at the weekend or early next week, after Sunday's unofficial referendum returned a majority of 90% in favour of secession. An extraordinary session of the Catalan Parliament is to meet on Monday to discuss the issue.

By leaving Catalonia, Sabadell would remain under the supervision of Spain's central bank and the Eurosystem, the network of central banks responsible for regulating the Euro.

Sabadell directors are considering Madrid and Alicante as possible alternatives to Barcelona, although Asturias has also been mooted, according to Television Espanola.

However the bank is studying the possibility of keeping its central services in Catalonia even if it moves its headquarters.

Another Catalan bank, Caixa, is also reportedly considering a move away from the region, but a spokesperson said "no decision has been taken" when pressed on the issue by Television Espanola.

Critics of Catalonia's push for independence have suggested that the region, if it gains independence, will face a lengthy wait to enter the EU, and could be blocked altogether if Spain decides to veto their access.

If the new state is left outside the EU, critics main, Barcelona's multinationals may wish to consider alternative bases - as several large London-based companies have done following the Brexit vote last year.