Spain Banks Threaten to Pull Out If Catalonia Wins Independence

Spanish banks threatened to pull out of Catalonia if it secedes from Spain, saying that would mean the region could no longer use the euro currency.

Independence would create serious legal uncertainty for banks doing business in Catalonia, the Spanish bank and savings bank associations said in a joint statement Friday.

“These difficulties would oblige the companies to reconsider their strategy of being present” in the region, with the result that Catalonia would face financial exclusion and higher borrowing costs, the banks said.

The banking lobbies are entering the debate about Catalonia’s future as the region braces for elections on Sept. 27. Opinion polls indicate that
pro-independence parties will win a majority in the regional parliament.
The parties claim this would give them a mandate to push for Catalan secession.

The banking associations that signed the statement represent Spain’s main lenders, including Banco Santander SA, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, CaixaBank SA, Bankia SA, Banco Sabadell SA and Banco Popular Espanol SA.

With assets of about 340 billion euros ($387 billion), 5,345 branches and more than 33,000 staff, CaixaBank, based in the Catalan capital Barcelona, is the bank with the biggest business in Spain. Sabadell, Spain’s fifth-biggest bank, is also Catalan-based.