Spain waged 'economic war' against Catalonia, claims report

Ara newspaper says state authorities and crown put orchestrated pressure on firms to flee the country immediately after October referendum

Image of CaixaBank's headquarters in Barcelona (by ACN)
Image of CaixaBank's headquarters in Barcelona (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 8, 2018 12:50 PM

One of the biggest fears surrounding the push for independence in Catalonia is how it might affect business. One consequence of last year's political instability on business was the decision by many companies to relocate their corporate headquarters outside Catalonia.

Following the referendum on October 1, carried out despite Spain's opposition, a domino effect could be discerned among many companies in Catalonia, with estimates a year later suggesting that altogether over 4,000 firms eventually moved their bases out of the country.

Yet, a series of reports by the Ara newspaper published over the weekend show the Spanish authorities and even the crown were involved in pressuring firms to move away, including the state withdrawing huge amounts of public capital from two of Catalonia's main banks.

Just a day after the referendum, some 10 billion euros in capital deposited by public companies and authorities were withdrawn from CaixaBank and Banc Sabadell, in an orchestrated political attempt to punish the Catalan economy, maintains the newspaper.

Withdrawals created "snowball effect"

According to Ara, one businessman says that "Renfe, Adif, State Ports, RTVE, and others, withdrew 2 billion euros from Sabadell in a single day." Another source is reported as saying, "the state agencies were the first to withdraw the money, and that created a snowball effect."

The immediate result was that in the week following the referendum, CaixaBank's assets lost 8% of their value, while Sabadell's went down by 12%.