Barcelona is among world's top 10 places to do business and first European city for shopping tourism

July 15, 2014 04:55 PM | ACN

Barcelona has gone from 22nd to 7th place in the list of 468 European cities with the best economic prospects; it is ranked the 19th most competitive city in the world and the 10th in Europe; it stands at 10th in the world in terms of receiving new business investments; and it became the 4th city hosting the largest amount of congresses at world level. The report was produced by the Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona in collaboration with the City Council. Furthermore, another study compiled by ESADE business school stressed that Barcelona is the 1st European city in money spent per tourist in shopping, ahead of London and Paris. The Mayor of Barcelona, ??Xavier Trias, welcomed the news but also emphasised the ''shadow'' of having more than 100,000 unemployed in Barcelona, a number he finds “unbearable.”

Catalonia aims to generate up to 25% of its PIB through the industrial sector by 2020

July 5, 2014 12:27 AM | ACN

The Catalan Government has presented a new strategy to boost important industries such as chemical, energy and resources, design, sustainable mobility or healthcare. Those sectors will have, by September, a team of experts that will include members of Government and the most important companies, and will prepare strategic plans to help them develop further. The Catalan President, Artur Mas, said on Friday that Catalonia needs its industries, and urged businesspeople to work together with him in order to improve the state of the economy.

SEAT's new SUV model to be produced in the Czech Republic instead of Greater Barcelona

June 6, 2014 10:05 PM | ACN

The new SUV model of SEAT, which is part of the Volkwagen Group, will be produced in the Czech Republic rather than in the Martorell plant despite being entirely designed in the SEAT Technical Centre in Martorell (Greater Barcelona), according to sources from the German car manufacturer. The company justified the decision because of "lower production costs" at the Czech Skoda plant. The news that the manufacturing of the model will be moved away from Barcelona has come as a blow to the CCOO trade union, which has expressed its regret that the Catalan factory has lost the opportunity to have a secure workload for the coming years. CCOO has suggested that the Martorell plant requires a business plan to ensure the allocation of new models.

Catalan exports grew by 4% in the first quarter of the year on 2013 figures

May 20, 2014 10:25 PM | ACN

Exports from companies based in Catalonia reached €14.69 billion during the first 3 months of 2014, a 4.1% increase on the same period of 2013. Catalan exports stagnated in 2013 on 2012 figures, with 0.1% growth, after a few years of significant increase. The figures from the first quarter of 2014 point towards a recovery of export growth, mostly thanks to the month of March, when exports grew by 7.8% compared to the same month of 2013. In the whole of Spain, exports increased by 3.2% in the first quarter and Catalonia represented 25.2% of total Spanish exports. The chemical industry accounted for 27.6% of Catalan exports, followed by capital goods and the car industry. 65.4% of Catalonia’s exports went to European Union markets, while exports to Asia accounted for 9%.

Seat and Nissan hire new temporary workforce in Barcelona to cope with increased demand

March 10, 2014 08:15 PM | ACN / Ben Ramage

Greater Barcelona-based car manufacturer Seat has hired 450 new workers to cover an expected increase in production. The new employees will join the workforce at the Martorell factory to aid the production of two of its most popular car models, the Ibiza and the Leon. Seat also announced an increase in overall production during a strong performance in 2013, which saw its highest production rates for 5 years. Besides, the Japanese Nissan recently extended the contract to 308 temporary workers and hired additional 20 people in its Barcelona factory. Last November, Nissan launched a shorter night shift to produce the Primastar X83 van, which was extended in February in order to increase production.

Catalonia approves 3 green taxes expected to raise €50 million per year

February 11, 2014 07:41 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government has approved 3 new environmental taxes on the air pollution emissions of commercial flights, industrial gas and particle emission, and the nuclear production of electric energy. €50 million are expected to be raised per year once the law will be enforced, which is scheduled for mid-year. The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, has admitted that flights at Barcelona’s El Prat Airport would likely be affected. However, he ensured that none of these 3 new taxes would have a negative impact on the consumers. The law specifies that the tax cannot affect pricing, neither for plane tickets nor for electricity, pointed out Homs. He then put in contrast the €98 million fees an airline can have to pay to the Spanish Airport Authority (AENA) with the €1 million in taxes that may be levied by the Catalan Government.

Catalan company applies for Syrian chemical weapon destruction contract without City Council approval

January 27, 2014 08:28 PM | ACN / Heidi M. Eskildsen

SITA Ibérica, a Catalan company located in Martorell, close to Barcelona, is one of the fourteen companies to have submitted a petition to destroy 500 tons of chemical weapons from Syria. But the submission was made without the prior knowledge of the Martorell City Council, which opposes the idea to destroy weapons in the Martorell area. The winner of the contest will be announced in early February by the UN body which is responsible for the destruction of the weapons.

Volkswagen to decide whether Catalonia will produce SEAT's new SUV

January 14, 2014 08:36 PM | ACN / Esther Romagosa

In the coming weeks, the management of Volkswagen Group should decide where to produce its latest SUV model, designed in the SEAT Technical Centre in Martorell (Greater Barcelona) and featuring two versions, one for the Catalan brand and the other one for Skoda. The President of the SEAT Workers Committee in Martorell, Matias Carnero, argued that the Catalonia-based factory was the most competitive to produce the vehicle. These past weeks, some sources have asserted that Martorell’s main rival, the Skoda plant in the Czech Republic, would ultimately be chosen. Indeed, it is believed that the President of SEAT Jürgen Stackmann hinted at such a fact in several internal meetings. However, Matias Carnero insisted that the Martorell factory had never been completely ruled out.

Catalan Government is working on a National Pact for the Industry

January 8, 2014 08:44 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government has welcomed the 138 proposals issued by a council of business associations, trade unions, academic experts and leading professionals, who form the so-called ‘Agreement for the Industry’ platform. The President of the Catalan Executive, Artur Mas, stated that those proposals are “a possible seed” for a broader agreement: a National Pact for the Industry that will define the priorities and main guidelines of Catalonia’s industrial policy for the next decade. The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment said that the 138 proposals coincide with “between 70 and 80%” of the Executive’s industrial policies. However he pointed out that the Government couldn’t bring all of them on board for budget or jurisdiction limitations.

Indian car company to invest €30 million in Catalonia

November 26, 2013 07:07 PM | ACN / Rafa Garrido

Samvardhana Motherson Peguform, which produces components and materials to build cars, has announced a €30 million investment in Catalonia, during the business trip of a delegation led by President of the Catalan Government Artur Mas. The Samvardhana Motherson Group, based in Noida, already owns 4 factories in Catalonia, from the former German company Peguform – which was purchased in 2011 by the Indian multinational. €25 million will be invested in rebuilding and enlarging its Polinyà plant, in Greater Barcelona, which produces car paint and was accidentally burned last September. The remaining €5 million will be allocated to upgrading its Ripollet plant, also based near the Catalan capital. In fact, Barcelona is one of the main hubs in Europe in the car industry, with several manufacturing companies building vehicles and components.

Grífols buys 21.3% of biotech company TiGenix for €12 million

November 21, 2013 01:04 PM | ACN

Catalan pharmaceutical company Grífols has purchased 21.3% of Belgian biotech company TiGenix for €12 million through the subscription of a capital increase. TiGenix is a leading company in the field of cell therapy. The agreement settled on the appointment of two Grífols Members on TiGenix’s Board and a preferential right to negotiate the development and commercialization of all TiGenix products, with the only exception of advanced-medicinal product ChondroCelect. Earlier this month, Grífols had already strengthened its therapeutic arsenal by buying part of the Diagnostics unit of Swiss multinational Novartis for $1,675 million.

SEAT builds the world’s largest solar plant on a car factory

November 12, 2013 07:00 PM | ACN / Maria Belmez / Esther Romagosa

Car manufacturer SEAT, based in Martorell (Greater Barcelona), has set up 53,000 solar panels on the roof of its main factory and on top of parking spaces. The company has just completed the third stage of a €35 million project, which started in 2010, and occupies 10% of the 3 million square metres of its Martorell facilities. The solar panels occupy an extension equivalent to 40 soccer fields and can generate 15 million kWh of clean energy per year. This is equivalent to 25% of the energy needed to produce the Seat Leon or to the “annual consumption of 3,500 households”, said President Jürgen Stackmann. With this eco-friendly project Martorell is now the automation factory with the largest solar plant in the world. Furthermore, the panels were installed over existing facilities and do not occupy additional space.

Grífols makes a profit of €182.2 million during the first half of 2013, an increase of 36.9% on last year

August 1, 2013 03:47 PM | ACN

The Catalan pharmaceutical company posted a net profit of €182.2 million between January and June 2013, which represents an increase of 36.9% on the same period of 2012. 92.1% of Grífols sales are made abroad and this figure has reached €1.27 billion, up from 6.2% on the first half of last year. Total turnover stood at €1.38 billion, a 4.9% increase. Furthermore, between April and June, the multinational based in Greater Barcelona obtained its highest ever quarterly sales in absolute terms, which reached €697.1 million and represented a 7.2% increase on the same period of 2012. Last year, Grífols bought out its main competitor in the US, Telecaris, which made the Catalan company one of the main pharmaceutical companies in North America, particularly in the blood-derivate products.

SEAT announces a temporary mass lay-off affecting 571 workers per day over four months

July 9, 2013 02:09 AM | CNA

Car manufacturer SEAT, which is part of the Volkswagen Group and is based in Greater Barcelona, has announced that the temporary mass lay-off will affect its entire staff in two phases. The first phase will be between September and December of 2013. 571 contracts per day will be temporarily suspended, in turns. In addition, the production lines for the Audi Q3 and the Seat Exceo will be closed for 16 days, affecting 2,800 employees. The Exceo car model will no longer be produced as of 2014. Furthermore, there will be a second phase of temporary lay-offs next year, when the Set Leon’s production line will be closed for 35 days, affecting 3,800 workers. The company explained that the decision was taken “after having exhausted all the internal flexibility measures”.

Record exports and foreign investment mitigated the contraction of the Catalan industry in 2012

July 4, 2013 11:44 PM | CNA

Catalonia’s industrial sector decreased by 1.1% in 2012 due to the economic crisis. Catalan companies exported products for €58.28 billion, the highest figure ever. This represented 5.7% more than in 2011 and 15.4% more than in 2008. Exports from Catalonia represented 26.2% of Spain’s total exports in 2012. Furthermore, foreign investment in industrial projects in Catalonia increased by 6.2% last year compared to 2011. Therefore, the highest volume of exports ever and an increase in foreign investment in industrial projects meant that the Catalan industrial sector decreased at a slower pace (-1.1%) than the Spanish average (-2.9%). The lack of access to bank credit is the main obstacle for corporate investments, stated the Catalan Government. The other great obstacle is the poor internal demand.