By Pietro Lombardi
CaixaBank SA (>> CaixaBank) said on Friday it will move its legal headquarters out of Catalonia, the second big bank to make such a decision this week as the region pushes for independence.
The board of the bank decided to move the headquarters to Valencia "in light of the current political and social situation in Catalonia."
The decision comes amid political turmoil, with Catalonia seeking a break from Spain. The tensions have pressured Spanish share prices in recent days.
The move comes a day after another big bank, Banco Sabadell (>> Banco de Sabadell), took a similar step, transferring its headquarters from the Catalan capital of Barcelona to Alicante. Sabadell shares closed 6.2% higher Thursday.
"Banco Sabadell has adopted this decision in order to protect the interests of our customers, shareholders and employees," the lender said in a regulatory filing.
A number of other companies based in the wealthy northeastern region, including utility company Gas Natural SDG (>> Gas Natural Fenosa) have said this week that they would either relocate or consider it, suggesting the separatist drive could have economic consequences.
CaixaBank said that the board will meet again after a decree approved by the Spanish government on Friday, which makes it easier for companies to move their legal base out of the restive region to within the country's national territory, becomes effective. The decree, which will come into effect on Oct. 8, is a response to petitions from a number of business groups, the minister said, adding that the Catalan government is causing "alarm and uncertainty" in the corporate sector with its policies.
Spain's economy minister Luis de Guindos said that, under the new rule, companies will only need to seek shareholder approval to move their base when it is specifically stipulated in their corporate statutes. Otherwise, the board decides alone.
"It is very sad that we are seeing very important companies leaving Catalonia. However, this is not the companies's fault, this is the fault of irresponsible policies that generate concern," Mr. de Guindos said.
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