italy

Barcelona-based Abertis to purchase 7,377 mobile phone towers in Italy for almost €700 million

March 2, 2015 09:21 PM | ACN

Barcelona-based Abertis, a multinational company specialised in the management of toll roads and telecommunications infrastructure, has reached an agreement to purchase 7,377 mobile phone towers in Italy at a total cost of €693 million. The Catalan group – which saw its net profits rise last year to €655 million – will acquire 90% of the shares of Galata, the subsidiary of the Italian operator Wind that owns the telephone towers. Abertis will thus strengthen its presence in the transalpine country and become the "largest European operator of telecommunications infrastructure for mobile telephony and audiovisual broadcasting", as the company announced through a press release.

Colourful Chinese New Year parade in Barcelona joined by Catalan cultural groups

February 23, 2015 05:27 PM | ACN / Marina Force Castells / Alice Ng

The Chinese community welcomed the 'Year of the Goat' last week. The biggest New Year festivity took place this Saturday, when a parade of a thousand people filled the Barcelona streets with a trail of red dancing dragons and lions. This is the second year that Chinese organisations and Catalan folklore groups, such as Catalonia's traditional human tower builders (‘castellers’) and the traditional giant figures representing kings, knights and princesses called ‘gegants’, joined together to celebrate Chinese New Year. Almost 10,000 spectators lined the parade route through the streets of the Eixample district in the centre of the city. Barcelona has 17,400 Chinese inhabitants, the third largest foreign population, after the Pakistani and the Italian communities; however a great number of Chinese people live in the surrounding towns of Greater Barcelona.  

Catalan Government wants to have a network of “about 50 delegations” abroad in “a few years”

February 2, 2015 10:51 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government’s Deputy Minister for External Affairs, Roger Albinyana, announced the Executive’s aim to have a network of “about 50 delegations” throughout the world, representing Catalonia’s political, business and cultural interests abroad. The Catalan Government currently has 7 delegations abroad, after the new representations in Rome and Vienna start to work on Monday, when the representatives were appointed. The 5 others are located in Brussels, London, Paris, Berlin and Washington. In the coming “months and years”, the Catalan Government will continue to open new delegations. Regardless of the hypothetical independence from Spain, the Catalan Executive already has the powers to have its own External Action policy, recognised by the Catalan Statute of Autonomy from 2006, although with many limitations.

New ferry connects Barcelona and Savona

January 21, 2015 12:40 AM | ACN / Amélie Martinez

This January, Grimaldi, the multinational logistics group specialised in maritime transport for major vehicle manufacturers’ world suppliers, has launched a new ferry called the “Florencia” to connect the Catalan capital and Savona, an Italian port located about 50km west of Genoa. This investment allows the company to double the frequency between the two harbours. The brand new “Florencia” is 186m long and can carry 1,000 passengers and 170 cars. It makes three trips per week: at midnight every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, reaching its destination the next day at 6pm.

16.7 million foreign tourists visited Catalonia in 2014, a new high and an increase of 7.2%

January 14, 2015 08:02 PM | ACN

Despite a decrease in Russian visitors, Catalonia increased the number of international tourists it hosted during 2014. Some 16.7 million foreigners travelled to Catalonia last year, which sets a new historic record. In addition, it represents a 7.2% increase on 2013 figures. International visitors spent more than €15 billion during their stay, 6.1% more than in 2013. Therefore, foreign tourism accounted for some 7.5% of Catalonia’s entire GDP during 2014. Each tourist spent an average of €900 during their stay. The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, presented the figures on Wednesday and emphasised that the objective for future years is not so much to increase the number of tourists but rather to increase the revenue which they bring in. 

Seat increases sales by 10% and production at its Greater Barcelona plant grows by 13% in 2014

January 13, 2015 09:29 PM | ACN

The Barcelona-based car manufacturer Seat, which is part of the Volkswagen group, ended 2014 with a 10% growth in sales. During last year, Seat sold 390,500 vehicles worldwide, which are produced in its factory in Martorell (Greater Barcelona). This plant increased production by 13.5%, reaching its highest level for 12 years. The factory has now achieved 5 consecutive years of growth. The company’s shining light during 2014 was the León model, sales of which increased by 50%, reaching 154,100 units sold, breaking its sales record. This type of car has become “the brand’s second pillar” after the Seat Ibiza, stated the company’s President, Jürgen Stackmann. During the last 2 years, Seat global sales have grown by 21.7%, surpassing their 2007 pre-crisis levels.

Dalí war painting purchased and exhibited by Figueres museum

January 12, 2015 09:31 PM | ACN

The Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, which runs the surrealist genius’ museum in Figueres (near Catalonia’s Costa Brava and the French border), has purchased ‘Violetes imperials’ (‘Imperial violets’) from a private collector. The piece from 1938 is a dark creation, painted during Spain’s Civil War and just before the start of the Second World War. It will be on display at the museum from Tuesday onwards. The painting, the price of which has not been disclosed, belongs to the Catalan artist’s surrealist period, but does not employ the colours regularly used by Dalí. Nonetheless, ‘Violetes imperials’ does depict some of the symbols used by one of the world’s most important artists of the 20th century. 

Amadeu Altafaj to represent Catalan Government in the European Union

January 7, 2015 05:42 PM | ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

The former European Commission’s Spokesperson for Economic Affairs during the Eurozone crisis, Amadeu Altafaj, is to become Catalonia’s Permanent Representative to the EU institutions. This position has been created as a way to increase the political weight of the already existing Catalan Government Delegation in Brussels in the middle of the debate about independence from Spain. Altafaj, who has also worked as Deputy Chief of Cabinet of the Commission’s Vice President for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, since 2012, will now direct this delegation and become Catalonia’s voice in the EU institutions’ offices. On many occasions, Altafaj has been vocal about Catalonia’s self-determination, supporting it and emphasising that an independent Catalan State would be economically viable.

Flights from Barcelona El Prat increase by 6.8% for winter season, while Girona shrinks by 20%

October 24, 2014 08:02 PM | ACN

The Spanish Airport Authority (AENA) has announced that this coming winter season over 8.4 million seats will be on offer on flights out of Barcelona El Prat Airport, an increase of 6.8% compared to last year. Seats on intercontinental destinations have increased by 13.6% over last year. The number of flight operations (take-offs and landings) is anticipated to be 47,000: an increase of 4.1% to 2013. In contrast, the airport of Girona Costa Brava (northern Catalonia) has announced it will offer 16 routes this winter season, 20% less than last year. Ryanair has implemented the cuts it announced last May and will no longer be connecting Girona to London or Paris. Ryanair and Wizz Air will be the only airlines flying from Girona to Kiev, and only Ten Airwais will operate charter flights to Nador, Morocco. This summer, Girona airport connected passengers to 69 destinations.

Spanish nationalist party UPyD files complaint against Catalan President for "disobedience"

October 8, 2014 08:09 PM | ACN

In addition, the Spanish nationalist and populist partyUPyD compared Catalonia's self-determination process with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, in a letter sent to all the 751 Members of the European Parliament. Furthermore, it states that "defending democracy in Europe" means stopping Catalonia's "illegal referendum", thus denying the existence of a Catalan nation.  Furthermore, after the recent measures adopted by Catalan authorities to organise a non-binding consultation vote on independence, UPyD – with no representation in Catalonia – filed on Wednesday a judicial complaint at the Supreme Court against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and most of the members of the Catalan Parliament's Bureau, including its President, Núria de Gispert. UPyD accuses all them of "disobedience" while Mas has also been accused of "an alleged prevarication offense", as well as of "usurpation of powers" and "embezzlement".

Exports from the Port of Barcelona increase by 63% from pre-crisis levels registered in 2008

July 18, 2014 08:36 PM | ACN

63% more exports have been channelled through the Port of Barcelona during the first six months of 2014 than in the same period of 2008, prior to the economic crisis. On Friday, the President of Barcelona Port Authority, Sixte Cambra, announced that 2014 will be the year of record sums of exports and imports from the Catalan port. The Port finished the first half of 2014 with 22.5 million tons of goods transported, representing an increase of 7% compared with the same period of 2013. Cambra said that growth occurred in all cargo sections of the port, driven by foreign trade, especially exports.

Catalan human towers demand a self-determination vote in London, Berlin, Paris, Geneva, Rome, Lisbon and Brussels

June 8, 2014 01:08 PM | ACN

Civil-society organisations from Catalonia have simultaneously built a traditional human tower, on Sunday 8 June at 12 o'clock (CET), in Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, London, Lisbon, Paris, Rome and Barcelona, as well as in 41 additional Catalan towns, to claim for the right of self-determination. "Catalans want to vote. Human towers for democracy" is the banner shown at the action, which ended with a manifesto read by famous personalities such as Paul Preston, Jordi  Savall and Pep Guardiola. This large-scale action taking place in almost 50 different locations  throughout Catalonia and the rest of Europe has been organised by the civil-society association Òmnium Cultural and has been exclusively funded via private donations and membership fees. 71 'castellers' groups, who are those building the traditional human towers (called 'castells' in Catalan) have participated in the action, which represent 85% of the existing 'castellers' associations.

Catalan contemporary architecture arrives in Venice for Biennale Exhibition

June 6, 2014 09:54 PM | ACN

Promising Catalan architect Josep Alegre Torrents has presented his 'Arquitectures Empeltades' project to the 14th International Architecture Exhbition held at the Venice Biennale, sponsored by the Ramon Llull Institute, the public body promoting Catalan culture abroad. "We want to show an attitude, a way of working to make the architecture relate and work with existing elements" explained Torrents, who said he wanted "to show the ways of doing things in Catalonia." It is the second time that Catalonia is participating in the Biennale International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. The current edition of this prestigious exhibition is entitled Fundamentals and is directed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. It will be open to the public from June 7 through to November 23, 2014.

New ‘Ferrari Land’ amusement park to open in Catalonia by 2016

March 13, 2014 09:12 PM | ACN

Catalonia’s PortAventura and Ferrari have reached an agreement to build a new area dedicated to the illustrious sports cars, expanding the current amusement park. Thanks to an over €100 million investment, ‘Ferrari Land’ will open in 2016 with 75,000 m2 at its disposal. Visitors will discover several attractions designed for fans of the Italian brand, including a vertical accelerator announced as the highest and fastest in Europe. ‘Ferrari Land’ will also host the first Ferrari themed hotel, which will offer 5-star accommodation in 250 rooms. The Italian company had already opened a dedicated theme park in Abu Dhabi named ‘Ferrari World’, which was met with much success among fans of the prancing horse. The new amusement facilities will be built next to 'BCN World', a $6 billion resort that will open next to PortAventura, with hotels, conference centres, casinos, theatres and golf courses.

Abertis’ turnover increased by 25% in 2013 to reach €4.65 billion

February 26, 2014 09:34 PM | ACN

The profits of Barcelona-based Abertis, a world leader in the toll road management sector, dropped by 39.8% in 2013 compared to 2012 figures. However, the company emphasised that both years are “not comparable” since profits were particularly high in 2012 due to the capital gains from selling corporate shares. If those operations were not taken into account, the recurring profit would have indicated a 6.5% growth. However, the Catalan multinational’s net profit amounted to €617 million in 2013, as opposed to the €1.02 billion reached in the previous year, as reported to the Spanish Stock Exchange Regulation Authority (CNMV) on Wednesday. Abertis’ EBITDA was set at €2.92 billion, representing an increase of 23.6% while the turnover increased by 25% to reach €4.65 billion.