Published:  12:13 AM, 08 October 2017

Business manoeuvres pressure in crisis

After the judges, police and politicians, Spanish business leaders are stepping into the ring to resist Catalan separatists' efforts to break the region away from Spain. Several big companies have announced plans to shift their legal headquarters out of the region after Catalan leaders threatened to declare independence.

They include the region's two biggest banks, Caixbank and Sabadell, and energy company Gas Natural. The move is a precaution against the fiscal and economic turbulence posed by the independence drive. It is also a tactic to pressure the separatists.

Having vowed to block independence, the central government on Friday passed a decree to make it quicker for companies to shift their legal headquarters from one region to another. Under the decree, banks are no longer obliged to consult all their shareholders before switching regions. Changing where they are legally registered would save Catalan companies from dropping out of the eurozone if the region did break from Spain, allowing them to retain access to European Central Bank financing.

It would also mean their taxes go to the Spanish treasury and not to any new Catalan fiscal authority. Tensions rose this week after separatists held an outlawed referendum last Sunday, marred by police violence against voters.

-AFP, Madrid

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