Leaving Catalonia was the right move, CaixaBank chairman says

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Spain’s third largest bank decided in October to move its legal headquarters out of Catalonia.

“It was the right move because in the banking business you have to ensure, always, that you preserve the savings and the stability of bank,” Jordi Gual said.

Spanish lender CaixaBank made the right choice in changing headquarters during the Catalonian crisis, the bank’s chairman said Wednesday.

Spain’s third largest bank decided in October to move its legal headquarters out of Catalonia. This was due to an ongoing call for a referendum that could have made the region independent from Spain.

“There was some uncertainty in October,” Jordi Gual told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche. “We moved quickly because at any point in time our duty to shareholders, and to our clients, and to our employees is to ensure the continuity of the business. This was guaranteed by the change of domicile.”

If Catalonia were to become independent from Spain, it would, consequently, also be outside of the European Union. To prevent against the risk of finding itself in a legal vacuum, CaixaBank relocated its legal offices to Valencia.

“It was the right move because in the banking business you have to ensure, always, that you preserve the savings and the stability of bank,” Gual said.

Banco Sabadell, Inmobiliaria Colonial and Abertis, along with several other firms based in Catalonia, made the same decision.

“Then after the October events, things quickly came back to normal and, in fact, initially we thought there might be some deceleration of economic growth in Catalonia and overall in Spain. But we don’t see that happening,” Gual said. He added that 2018 should prove “remarkable.”

According to forecasts from the European Commission, Spain is set to grow at a pace of 2.6 percent this year. The economy has registered one of the strongest performances in the euro area in the last few years — after the troubles seen during the sovereign debt crisis.