Investors dump Catalonian bank shares as separatists prepare independence bid

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Pivotal Day For Catalan Independence As Crisis Comes To A Head
Separatist supporters protested today in Barcelona (Source: Getty)

Investors fled Catalonian bank stocks as separatist parties in the region's parliament tabled a resolution calling for independence from Spain, as the crisis reaches its endgame.

Catalonian president Carles Puigdemont is expected to address the parliament this afternoon during a session debating the resolution.

Shares in Banco de Sabadell fell by more than 5.5 per cent at the time of writing. Banco Sabadell was previously based in Barcelona, the Catalonian regional capital, but it moved its headquarters to Alicante on 5 October to try to minimise the risk to its operations of chaos.

Read more: Catalonian separatist parties file resolution to declare independence

Caixabank shares lost more than three per cent. The lender, majority owned by Spain's third largest financial institution, La Caixa, followed Sabadell's lead by moving its headquarters to Valencia. The move by Spain's biggest retail bank will be permanent, its chief executive said this week.

Spanish banks with headquarters outside Catalonia also weakened, with BBVA losing more than 2.5 per cent and Santander, Spain's only global systemically important bank, losing two per cent. Shares in Bankia and Unicaja lost more than two and three per cent respectively.

Banks and other firms in Catalonia have been hard hit as the constitutional crisis has unfolded, with investors fearing their operations could be harmed.

Read more: Spain to dismiss Catalonian leaders and Madrid to take over ministries

Yesterday European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi said it was too early to tell whether the Catalonian crisis will harm Europe's financial stability. Catalonian banks would no longer qualify for ECB funding if the region secedes and drops out of the EU automatically.

The independence bid has divided Catalonia, with massive demonstrations during the last month both in favour and against the independence bid.

Carlos Carrizosa, the spokesperson in the Catalonian parliament for the Citizens party, which opposes independence, called the vote "populist, anti-democratic and totalitarian" before ripping up a copy of the separatist resolution.

Read more: Short of civil war markets have the measure of the Catalonian crisis

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