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The flight of companies in Catalonia threatens to become irreversible

Entrepreneurs and analysts agree that years of stability will be needed for companies to come back

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The flight of companies in Catalonia threatens to become irreversible
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In announcing its march in Catalonia se last few days, some companies said y were going away for an indefinite period during current situation of political uncertainty and legal insecurity; But many of m, in private conversations, admitted not having made a temporary decision, but firm. And that much would have to change things in next few years for m to consider coming back.

"What happened is a catastrophe for Catalonia and its economy." "I doubt that no company will come back, at least after a period of no less than three or five years of absolute tranquility," summarizes Juan Ignacio Sanz, banking expert at ESADE's Barcelona School of Business.

The change of domicile does not imply for now transfer of production plants or large quantities of workers. Nor is it expected that it will have in short term a great impact on autonomic coffers: tax of companies is raised by central government, and both gives in which place of Spain company is located. The biggest blow affects reputation for Catalonia, a community that seemed to be ideal for doing business and now re are doubts about legal certainty enjoyed by its companies.

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The hypotical trip back to Catalonia is unlikely for industrial companies, but even less so for financiers. CaixaBank and Sabadell, who add a value in stock of more than 33 billion euros, made decision to move to Valencian Community doubly pressured: on one hand, by flight of deposits and punishment of markets that were suffering; And on or, because of fear of a hypotical Catalan independence in which y would be outside umbrella of European Central Bank (ECB). Even if situation reassured, it is doubtful that y would risk facing a new change of venue, with necessary authorization of European Banking supervisor. "If ECB said re was a risk of instability, I would not let m go back." "They will have to wait a few years without any instability so that y can reconsider a new change of venue," concludes Professor ESADE.

Among companies that go, some have important complexes in ir new social homes. This is case of Sabadell, Natural Gas or planet. These links will make it harder for se companies to return to Catalonia, even if y consider returning. Something similar happens with multinationals, less sentimentally linked to a specific territory, and refore less likely to return.

From sovereigntists Catalan sectors government is accused of having pressured large companies to change ir registered office as a method of boycotting procés. And as a token of this y cite decree driven by economy last week that makes paperwork flexible for a company to pack. From Ministry of Economy y deny major. "It is not a situation neir desirable nor pleasant." Nobody benefits what we're living. But we had to act because companies asked for help to facilitate ir transfer because ir investors demanded it, "said sources from department that heads Luis de Guindos.

The law firms of Barcelona have had this week an overload of work due to changes in social addresses. And experts consulted also ensure that return will not be easy, although, from a strictly legal point of view, re would be no great difficulty in reversing decision to leave Catalonia. "But if you move structure of decision-making, it is more complex to return to tax implications it entails." And because, from our experience in business management, no company is in favor of making modifications of this kind in short periods of time, "says Rubén Vázquez, a commercial lawyer for Briz legal Tax Office, specializing in Tax and corporate law.

The memory of Quebec

The situation of se days of Catalonia reminds of one that lived Canadian province of Quebec between 1980 and 1995, years in which two referendums of independence were held. Of eight banks in Quebec, only one maintained its headquarters in this French-speaking province. About 700 companies left; They never came back. In front of Montreal, which lost companies to jets, Toronto was big beneficiary.

Entrepreneurial flight is especially complicated for a community like Catalonia, highly indebted — so it needs international confidence to obtain good-value financing — and with companies dumped on outside sector, which export mostly To rest of Spain and European Union. "The companies most likely to return will be those whose main part of activity is in Catalonia." But those are least important. When decision is taken to leave an area because of its political instability it is practically irreversible. "Why are you going to have headquarters again, if you don't have any economic or institutional or political advantage?" asks from London Daniel La Calle, professor of Global economics at IE Business School.

Pampering in new destinations

Years ago, Barcelona dreamt of becoming an important financial plaza. But in a few days Catalonia has lost only two large banks that remained: CaixaBank and Sabadell move to Valencian Community. "The autonomous reception communities are going to pamper newly arrived companies to stay." "And Barcelona can happen to you like Montreal, which after business exodus of 1980s and nineties is close to irrelevance," says Juan Ignacio Sanz, professor at ESADE.

The transfer of social and fiscal domicile will also imply change of directive structure. "In short and medium term it is possible that, with facilities that are being given by municipal and regional authorities of destination, companies end up also working with local suppliers", assures a manager of patronal Foment of Treball.


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