SOME 1,700 companies have moved their headquarters from Catalunya since the October 1 independence referendum.

Business leaders fear the Catalan economy, which accounts for a fifth of Spain’s GDP, will be damaged by the current crisis.

Following the referendum, Spain slashed its growth forecast from 2.6% to 2.3% over fears the Catalan impasse will harm the economy.

Shares in Catalan banks dropped on Spain’s Ibex-35 index, with CaixaBank seeing its price slide by 5% and Sabadell losing 6%.

Spain’s third and fifth biggest lenders respectively, both were first to shift headquarters from Barcelona, sparking an exodus from other concerned companies.

“When you lose CaixaBank, a symbol of Catalunya, it’s demoralising,” said Carlos Rivadulla of the association Empresaris de Catalunya (Catalan businesspeople).

“Companies like Sabadell are going to move their top management, and then it will be assets leaving.

“The same thing that happened to Quebec is going to happen here.”

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