In Brief

Catalonia crisis: 1,700 companies flee ‘independent’ region

Madrid faces little resistance as it takes control from Catalan government

Spanish stocks and bonds jumped early on Monday as Madrid moved to take control of Catalonia amid signs that normality may soon return, Bloomberg reports.

The country’s Ibex 35 index was up 1.2%, led by its Catalan-based banks, as investors reacted positively to the developments, says the Financial Times.

Catalonia’s economy has taken a beating since the regional government declared independence on 1 October. 

Between 2 and 26 October, 1,681 businesses - including banking giants CaixaBank and Sabadell, and construction company Abertis - moved their headquarters from Catalonia to other parts of Spain, The Times reports. CaixaBank and Sabadell, which owns Britain’s TSB, have seen a total of €30m (£26.4m) withdrawn from customers’ accounts in recent weeks.

A total of 379 of the companies that moved did so between Monday and Thursday last week, prior to Friday’s declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament, and Madrid’s decision to impose direct rule on the region.

Carles Puigdemont, the ousted president of Catalonia’s suspended administration, was not seen at his office in Barcelona on Monday morning amid reports that Spanish prosecutor was calling for charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of funds to be brought against Catalan leaders. 

Some reports said Puigdemont and at least four of his former ministers were in Brussels where they may be attempting to request political asylum, Spain's El Pais newspaper says. A decision on whether asylum will be granted is expected within the next five days.

Puigdemont is reportedly in a safe place, away from the media, and is expected to give a speech on Tuesday clarifying why he left the country, the Daily Mail says.

Leaders of the main Catalan separatist parties held meetings today to decide how to respond to elections called by Madrid on 21 December, “with signs they are leaning towards fielding candidates”, the FT says. Spanish ministers have said Mr Puigdemont could run, provided he is “not in jail”.

“Secessionist parties – an unwieldy alliance of conservative and far-left groups with very different platforms – are now torn over this election,” El Pais says. “Participating in it would be tantamount to recognising the Spanish Constitution, after having publicly rejected it.”

Madrid faced little resistance as it moved to take control of Catalonia on Monday. The regional government’s cabinet did not try to defy the exceptional measures imposed by Madrid by entering government offices in Barcelona.

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