Spain's government has passed a law making it easier for companies to move their official base out of Catalonia, a move that could deal a heavy blow to the region's finances.
According to unconfirmed reports, the decree was designed specifically for Spanish lender Caixabank, since it makes it possible for the bank to transfer its legal and tax base out of the region without holding a shareholders' meeting, as stated in its statutes. Caixabank's board is due to meet on Friday to discuss the issue.
At least half a dozen companies, including the fifth-largest lender, Banco Sabadell, have already relocated or agreed to do so.
Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said: “This is the result of an irresponsible policy that is causing uneasiness in the business community.”
Spain's main stock index is down slightly, with Catalan banks leading losses amid uncertainty over the region's independence bid.
The Ibex 35 index lost 0.9 per cent to 10.126 points in Madrid by midday on Friday.
The biggest fallers were Banco Sabadell, the country's fifth-largest bank by assets, and Caixabank, Spain's third-largest.
Two Catalan companies, textiles maker Dogi and reprographics company Service Point Solutions, saw their shares surge after they said they had plans to relocate.
Cava-maker Freixenet, a household name, is also considering a move while telecommunications provider Eurona and biotech firm Oryzon have already completed their relocations.
Associated Press contributed to this report
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