Messi and his father accused of a €4 million fiscal fraud by the Spanish Public Prosecutor Office

June 13, 2013 12:17 AM | CNA

The FC Barcelona player denies having evaded taxes. “We have not committed an offence” and “we have always honoured our fiscal obligations” stated Lionel Messi in a note published on his Facebook account. On Wednesday, the Public Prosecution Office accused the Argentinean football player and his father Jorge Horacio Messi of not having paid €4 million to the Spanish Tax Agency in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The Prosecution Office believes they hid “important revenue” deriving from image rights and “simulated” signing over the image rights to societies based in fiscal havens such as Belize or Uruguay or with addresses in countries particularly permissive with such societies such as the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Barcelona-based CaixaBank to sell 10.1% of Carlos Slim's Grupo Financiero Inbursa

June 7, 2013 11:17 PM | CNA

The Catalan company, which is the main bank operating in the Spanish market, will sell half of its shares in the Mexican GFI, the financial group owned by the billionaire Carlos Slim. Caixabank currently controls 20% of the GFI shares. The Catalan bank has confirmed it will sell 3.7% of GF Inbursa to Inmobiliaria Carso, which is also owned by the Slim family, for €387 million, corresponding to 250 million shares. With this operation, Caixabank will earn a capital gain of €33 million. Besides, the Catalan bank aims to sell another 6.4% of GIF shares to institutional and retail investors from Mexico and international markets. After completing both sales, Caixabank will control between 9% and 9.9% of GFI.

CaixaBank and Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce to offer €3 billion in loans for member companies

May 23, 2013 01:33 AM | CNA

In a situation of difficult access to credit by Catalan and Spanish companies, Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce and the main Spanish bank – which is based in the Catalan capital – have agreed to open a new credit line for the 25,000 private companies (small, medium-sized and large) and independent workers affiliated to the Chamber’s ‘Club Cambra’. In January 2012 they created the first credit fund with €2 billion. Now, a total of €3 billion will be available, of which €1 billion will be for internationalisation projects. CaixaBank’s President, Isidre Fainé, and the President of the Chamber, Miquel Valls, signed the new agreement on Wednesday.

The Catalan Government ended the first quarter of 2013 with a deficit of 0.21%

May 17, 2013 12:09 AM | CNA

Between January and March, the Catalan Government had a budget deficit of €411 million, representing 0.21% of Catalonia’s GDP. The definitive deficit target for 2013 for each Autonomous Community has not been set by the Spanish Government yet. Madrid set a 1.2% target a few weeks ago but everybody assumes it will be raised as negotiations are on-going with the Catalan Government. Rumours indicate that Catalonia’s deficit target may finally be set at around 1.8%. The Autonomous Communities posted a total public deficit of €1.24 billion at the end of the first quarter, corresponding to 0.12% of Spain’s GDP. According to the Spanish Deputy Minister for Budget, the figure represents half the deficit posted in the same period last year.

Banc Sabadell pays AEGON €450 million for 50% of the insurance company Mediterraneo Vida

May 4, 2013 12:21 AM | CNA

The Catalan financial entity Banc Sabadell reached an agreement with the Dutch insurance company AEGON on Friday to buy 50% of the shares of Mediterráneo Vida, S.A. de Seguros y Reaseguros, the joint venture originally established with Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo. The operation is on the condition that they receive the green light from the regulatory authorities. The transaction will allow Banc Sabadell to own 100% of Mediterráneo Vida, S.A. With the operation, the Catalan bank will move forward in the organisation of its insurance subsidiaries and affiliates.

Lloyds buys 1.8% of Banc Sabadell by transferring its Spanish subsidiaries to the Catalan bank

April 30, 2013 12:25 AM | CNA

The Catalan Banc Sabadell has bought all the shares in the Lloyds subsidiary companies in Spain: Lloyds Bank International and Lloyds Investment. Banc Sabadell paid €84 million that will be paid through giving 53.75 million shares in the Catalan bank to the British banking giant. This way, Lloyds will control 1.8% of Banc Sabadell’s total shares. The agreement foresees than the UK group will become a “stable shareholder”, since Lloyds has committed to keeping the stocks for at least two years. With the operation, the Catalan bank will control the Lloyds retail and investment businesses in Spain, where the UK company has 28 branches, €1.79 billion in loans and €760 million in deposits.

The Catalan Government is considering the implementation of a tax on empty flats to be paid by the owning companies

April 23, 2013 12:02 AM | CNA

The new tax would not affect individual citizens neither would it be implemented in areas without housing demand. The tax aims to put apartments and houses, owned by banks and real estate companies that remain empty despite being in areas with a demand for housing, back on the market. The expected effect is an increase in the amount of housing on offer in those areas and to make renting cheaper. The Catalan Minister for Public Works, Santi Vila, announced the new tax on Monday morning. A few hours later, the Catalan President confirmed they are considering it, although no final decision has been made. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) stated that the measure was part of the agreement reached with the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU).

Eleven town halls pay their taxes to the Catalan Tax Agency instead of the Spanish one

April 19, 2013 12:56 AM | CNA

In a symbolical action, 11 town halls have handed in their monthly taxes to the Catalan Tax Agency and not to the equivalent Spanish entity. The Catalan Government’s body stated that it is legal, since later they will transfer the money to the Spanish Tax Agency. However, with this action, the town halls involved wanted to lend their support to “Catalonia collecting its own taxes”. In fact, the Catalan Government collecting all the taxes in Catalonia is widely asked for by a majority of the Catalan society. This week the Catalan Executive announced a programme supporting the development of its own Treasury, in order to provide the Catalan Tax Agency with muscle and experience. Furthermore the Association of Pro-Independence Town Halls asked its members to stop paying their taxes to the Spanish Tax Agency and switch to the Catalan one instead.

The Catalan Banc Sabadell to acquire the Banco Gallego

April 18, 2013 01:07 AM | CNA

The offer, presented by Banc Sabadell, has won the tender for the acquisition of Banco Gallego, which was nationalised and owned by the Spanish Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB). Banco Gallego was partially owned by Novagalicia Banco, the private bank resulting from Nova Caixa Galicia. The FROB has announced its decision although it also explained that the final details are still “being negotiated”. In the last year and a half, Banc Sabadell has bought the former Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, the business activity of Caixa Penedès (part of Banco Mare Nostrum) and now Banco Gallego.

British Airways-Iberia improve their takeover offer on Vueling’s shares with an increase from €7 to €9.25

March 27, 2013 09:53 PM | CNA

IAG, the airline formed after the merger of British Airways and Iberia, has improved its offer for the total takeover of Barcelona-based Vueling, one of the few airlines in Europe which has earned a profit in the last few years. Earlier this month, Vueling’s board rejected IAG’s offer, presented in November, as they considered it to be too low. Now, the shareholders have had the last word. IAG already controls 45.85% of Vueling. With the new offer, if IAG manages to control 50.01% of Vueling – despite it officially aiming to get 100% of the Catalan airline shares – the operation will go ahead.

The number of home mortgages in Catalonia grew by 47.1% in January compared to the previous month

March 26, 2013 11:12 PM | CNA / Josep Molina

The increase is the highest one registered in Catalonia over the last year. 3,751 home mortgage contracts were signed in January. At the end of 2012, the fiscal benefits for purchasing houses were diminishing and were non-existent by January. Despite this fact, there was a peak in the number of mortgage loans taken out. For the whole of Spain, the number of mortgage loan contracts signed in January reached 25,447, a 44.7% increase in relation to December last year. This is the highest increase since January 2007. Furthermore, the average price of the mortgages signed in January in Catalonia reached €110,418. In year-over-year terms, the number of mortgages signed in Catalonia in January 2013 was 18.58% lower than those signed in January 2012.

Catalonia’s public body offering credit funded 8,500 companies in 2011 and 2012 with €1.7 billion

March 25, 2013 10:03 PM | CNA

The Institut Català de Finances (ICF), the Catalan Government’s financial institution which offers credit, announced that it gave €1.7 billion in loans to 8,500 companies over the last two years in an Action Plan. The plan’s main objective is to foster economic activity and prevent companies from going bankrupt due to liquidity issues. 98% of those who received loans were SMEs and independent workers. The ICF’s Action Plan had the objective of injecting liquidity into the real economy, into the Catalan business network, while the private banks are going through their restructuring process and access to credit is particularly difficult for many companies.

Multi-million euro support for internationalisation of Catalan fashion label Desigual

March 25, 2013 07:23 PM | CNA / Karina Reinhard

The fashion label Desigual based in Barcelona has obtained a €200 million line of credit from different banks. This financial support will be used to finance international expansion as well as plans for a new logistical centre in Vilamoura (Barcelona). Leading this investment is the Catalan bank CaixaBank, mostly owned by La Caixa. Under the slogan “Desigual – It’s not the same” the label wants to focus on continual improvements, innovation, engagement, tolerance, positivism and fun. Within this slogan now Desigual is trying to attain a more international status, enlarging its current team of 2,900 people from 72 different nationalities.

The Catalan Government posts a debt of €50.95 billion at the end of 2012

March 14, 2013 08:09 PM | CNA

The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell has announced that the Catalan Government had a public debt of €50,948 million on the 31st of December, 2012. Catalonia’s debt has increased by €16 billion in only 2 years due to the financial crisis. Furthermore, in 2013, the Catalan Government will have to pay €2.2 billion in interest on the debts – equivalent to 8% of its budget and 1% of Catalonia’s annual GDP. Catalonia has been a net contributor to the European Union for decades and has been paying around 8.5% of its annual GDP – equivalent to €17 billion – every year for services and infrastructure in the rest of Spain. Despite this fact, the Catalan Government does not receive enough money from the Spanish Executive, which raises most of the taxes and distributes revenue among Autonomous Communities.

The Catalan Government posts a 2% deficit for 2012, correcting the previous preliminary figure

February 21, 2013 10:36 PM | CNA

A month ago, the Catalan Government issued a preliminary deficit figure for last year of 2.3%. Now, the Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, has corrected this and issued “a more precise figure, although not definitive yet”, which represents having undertaken an adjustment of €3.3 billion in a single year. The Catalan Government was supposed to meet a deficit target of 1.5% in 2012, a figure imposed by the Spanish Executive and considered too strict by Mas-Colell, since it is not proportional to the Catalan Executive’s share of public spending. For 2013, the Spanish Government is imposing an even stricter 0.7% deficit target. Mas-Colell has been repeating that it is “irrational” and needs to be changed.