Breaking News: Catalonia loses all its big banks in eight years.

In 2009, there were 11 large financial institutions in Catalan territory. With the exit of Sabadell and CaixaBank there is no longer anymore
This week has been one of the biggest blows to the process of independence with the march of the social headquarters of the second and the fifth Spanish bank, CaixaBank and Sabadell . The movement leaves no relevant entities based in Catalonia, a community that had 11 entities domiciled in 2009. The financial crisis of 2008 was carried forward the boxes of Girona, Sabadell, Terrassa, Manlleu, Tarragona, Manresa, Laietana, Penedès and Catalonia. The operational headquarters of the two banks, where decisions are taken, will be maintained for the time being in Catalonia, but the key is whether they will remain in the future to serve with the same proximity to individuals and companies.

Catalan leaders denied it until the very last moment: CaixaBank and Sabadell will not leave Catalonia, said the Vice-President of the Generalist, Oriol Junqueras, and 48 ​​hours before both entities moved their headquarters to Valencia and Alicante respectively. In October 2015, the former president of the Generalist, Artur Mas, had also said that he would placate the fearful with the process: "Do not treat us like bullies. Banks will not leave Catalonia because they represent 20% of the Spanish market, they will fight to be here, "he concluded.

The politicians' concern is that the last years have been very hard for the Catalan financial system, which only a few decades ago had large banks, such as Banca Catalana, or savings bank giants such as la Caixa de Barcelona, ​​which was absorbed by the Pension, forming La Caixa. The powerful industrial fabric and Catalan manufacturing historically supported the entities, some of which formed what was known as the industrial banking.
After the crises of the eighties and nineties, the sector concentrated on a dozen stronger entities. This led to the Great Recession of 2008, but mismanagement, politicization of the entities and the collapse of the euro led to the bankruptcy and subsequent sale of nine boxes, some of which were 170 years old. In parallel, the Catalan economy, like the rest of Spain, sank. Only until 2014, in this region were closed 65,000 companies and destroyed more than 650,000 jobs.

Maintain operational headquarters

The Catalan financial sector was reduced to CaixaBank, already converted into a bank by imposition of the authorities - the Bank of Spain -, and Sabadell. Both entities have large market shares in Catalonia, but the old box, with 68,000 million deposits in the region, 39% of Catalonia's total, 24% of loans to companies and households and 1,352 offices stands out. 26% of the total in Spain. The entity chaired by Joseph Oliu has 24,000 million savings, 24% of the total, 638 offices, 30%. In summary, Oliu maintains that Catalonia represents 15% of the whole business in Spain, which accounts for 70% of the group. The UK adds an additional 30%.
Both banks have said that they leave Catalonia to protect their clients, shareholders and employees from the damage they are suffering because of the uncertainty created by the independence process. Since last Sunday, the day of the referendum, but mainly since Wednesday, have suffered the withdrawal of deposits, inside and outside Catalonia, stock market sales and pressure from international investors, who are concerned about their legal status. With the new headquarters in Valencia they want to curb this dangerous current because they cannot live another day with the concern of being without the European Central Bank coverage and the Deposit Guarantee Fund.
What practical consequences does the transfer of the registered office have? The two banks say they do not move their operational headquarters in Barcelona, ​​where they will have their largest headquarters. But there is the fear of dripping of infrastructures to Valencia or Alicante, especially if Catalonia loses economic bellows.

Fear of more transfers

"What really matters are the banking relationships, which bring value to both entities and businesses and families. It is worrying that some banking relationships deteriorate because of the change of venue by not having the physical closeness with which they were born years ago. And in that case, the great disadvantage is Catalonia, "says Joaquin Maudos, Professor of Economics at the University of Valencia.
This expert, and other consulted who have asked for anonymity, add that there is a risk of disaffection "of Catalan depositors who favor independence, who may perceive that their bank is no longer Catalan. “But this negative impact will be more than offset by the fact that depositors in the rest of Spain are again feeling covered by the Guarantee Fund and the ECB. I hope this will end the deposit process," added Maudos.
In a globalized world, it may be important to have banks in your region, but above all, the key is those operating in the region, wherever they may be, to offer financing in good conditions, Maudos and other experts say. It would be of no help to Catalonia that CaixaBank and Sabadell would remain if they were not going to be solvent and, therefore, could not offer good conditions of access to credit and remuneration of savings.

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