BARCELONA – A major international utility company that provides water to the city of Barcelona announced on Tuesday it would return its headquarters to Catalonia, the first in a host of businesses that a year ago shifted their nerve-centers out of the region due to political and economic instability linked to an illegal declaration of independence.
The Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona (Agbar), a company dedicated to services, distribution and treatment of water which for years had its headquarters in Barcelona’s iconic Torre Glòries – formerly known as the Torre Agbar – had decided to temporarily move its nerve-center to Spain’s capital Madrid on Oct. 7, joining thousands of large, medium and small businesses, including major banks, that shifted out of Catalonia to protect shareholders.
“The board of directors at SGAB, the Agbar group’s parent company, has decided to re-establish its headquarters in Barcelona,” a company statement said. “The board of directors adopted this measure given the economic stability.”
The relocation of its HQ from Barcelona to the capital did not affect services in Catalonia, the company had argued.
Over 3,000 Catalonia-based companies moved out of the region, including renowned firms like Codorníu, which was the first to produce Spain’s sparkling cava wine, lenders CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell, and energy giant Gas Natural Fenosa.
The exodus was sparked by the erstwhile Catalan regional government’s pledge to declare independence from Spain following a referendum on Oct. 1, which was ruled illegal by the Spanish judiciary.
The Catalan regional parliament did pass a resolution declaring independence on Oct. 27, but Spain’s central government, at the time lead by conservative former prime minister Mariano Rajoy, swiftly reeled back Catalonia’s autonomy by triggering a hitherto dormant article of the Constitution to impose direct-rule from Madrid.