VALENCIA, Spain – Spain’s third-largest lender, CaixaBank, which formed part of an early exodus of businesses and banks out of Catalonia amid uncertainties arising from an ongoing bid for independence in the region, announced on Tuesday that its relocation is permanent.
CaixaBank’s board shifted its registered office from Barcelona to the eastern city of Valencia on Oct. 6, amid fears that Catalan regional leaders were poised to unilaterally declare independence from Spain following a controversial referendum deemed illegal by the Spanish judiciary.
“If the board had wanted to say that the move was temporary, it would have said, but it did not,” said CEO Gonzalo Gortazar, presenting CaixaBank’s third quarterly results in Valencia for the first time.
Gortazar said the decision was made to safeguard the interests of clients, employees, and shareholders and that the decision had made by the bank’s top directors.
Although the bank will from now on announce results and meet with the board of shareholders in Valencia, central CaixaBank operations will remain in Barcelona and there were no plans to relocate any other departments at the moment, the CEO said.
Asked whether the move was reversible, Gortazar said: “the relocation has been made, and we have not at any point said that it would be temporary.”
CaixaBank simplified the process of transferring its corporate headquarters by using a mechanism put in place by the Spanish government in the wake of the controversial Catalan referendum to facilitate business relocations out of the wealthy northeastern region of Spain, the CEO said, reiterating that the directors, not the shareholders, made the decision.