Spanish infrastructure firm Abertis, and several other companies have reportedly begun discussing moving their headquarters out of Catalonia, as the government also tries to lure businesses onto its side of the Catalan independence debate. Kate King reports.
Abertis maintains and operates highways in Spain, France and the Americas. And its board reportedly started this week considering whether to take the road out of Catalonia and move its head office from Barcelona. Several other big companies including Banco Sabadell have already decided to shift their legal homes, amid fears of instability. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET ANALYST AT CMC MARKETS, DAVID MADDEN, SAYING: "Where does this Catalonia and the independence movement? Well it's actually their duty to meet with these business leaders and ensure that it will be business as usual or they look to actually arrange new guarantees all be it, capital in check, or trade deals and what an independent catalonia would mean for the business community." Hundreds of thousands of unionists took to the streets over the weekend to protest against the region breaking away. Losing Catalonia would deprive Spain of a fifth of its economic output and more than a quarter of exports. That helped calm Spanish markets - so did a new government decree aimed directly at financial institutions. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET ANALYST AT CMC MARKETS, DAVID MADDEN, SAYING: " They have actually bought in new legislation to ensure that any companies that have their head offices in Catalonia can easily transfer to another part of Spain, it's a clever tactic by Madrid to actually put financial pressure on the Catalonians who are seeking independence." If Catalonia pushes forward with independence - it will likely find itself shut out of the European Union. That could throw up issues for any bank looking for a safety net, and seems to have raised a red flag for other major businesses.