Gas Natural, a natural gas and electrical energy utilities company, has decided to move its registered office out of Catalonia to Madrid. The move, however, is "temporary", the company has said. The business, headed by Isidre Fainé, has made the decision in a urgent board of directors meeting held this Friday. It comes the same day that the Spanish cabinet has approved a decree easing the move of company's registered offices and ahead of the possibility of a declaration of independence of Catalonia next week.
Before its merger with Gas Natural, Unión Fenosa was headquartered in Madrid. This is the reason why the directors chose that as their destination, where they have two large complexes, one the former offices of Fenosa in Avenida de San Lluís, and the other in Avenida de América. Previously, the company had its registered office at plaça del Gas, 1 in Barceloneta, Barcelona.
In a statement, the Catalan multinational justified its decision with "the political and social situation seen during the last few weeks in Catalonia and due to the legal uncertainty that creates". In the memo, Gas Natural Fenosa specifies that the move is "temporary", "whilst this situation continues", although it made it clear that "this decision doesn't affect those companies of the group that exclusively offer services within Catalonia".
"The measure is adopted to maintain the normal operation of the company and with the aim of protecting the interests of the company, its clients, employees, shareholders, creditors and providers. This decision will not affect the offering of services nor have any labour consequence," they say.
Following in the footsteps
The energy company is following in the footsteps of other companies and banking entities. Banco Sabadell, for example, agreed this Thursday to move its headquarters to Alacant (Alicante in Spanish), and this Friday, CaixaBank followed them moving to Valencia. Freixenet, a cava (sparkling wine) producer, is also considering whether to move its registered office if independence is declared and insurance provider Catalan Occident has sent an internal message saying that it will take the "necessary" decision to guarantee its future activity in an environment of legal stability.
The Spanish cabinet has today approved a decree law of urgent measures which establishes a new framework to ease the changing of companies' registered offices within Spain in the face of the conflict between the state and Catalonia.
Gas Natural Fenosa emerged in 1843 under the name Societat Catalana per a l'Enllumenat per Gas (Catalan Company for Gas Streetlighting) as the company responsible for bringing light to the streets and public spaces of Barcelona, the first public service in the city.