March 20, 2018 / 4:58 PM / a month ago

Catalonia bank deposits fell 17 percent in secession crisis

MADRID, March 20 (Reuters) - Bank deposits in Catalonia fell 17 percent to their lowest in more than a decade in the last quarter of 2017 as a secession crisis unfolded, Bank of Spain data showed on Tuesday.

Catalonia made a unilateral declaration of independence in October on the basis of a referendum that Madrid had declared illegal, raising concerns among investors and depositors that financial institutions operating there could lose the protection of the European Central Bank.

Catalan lenders Caixabank and Banco Sabadell moved their headquarters out of the northeastern region, which accounts for around a fifth of Spain’s economic output, and more than 3,000 companies also left.

Lenders operating in Catalonia held deposits worth 153.3 billion euros ($188 billion) at the end of December, from 184.7 billion euros three months earlier. That was their lowest level since June 2006.

Deposits were down 1.6 percent nationwide in the same period while several regions saw an increase, including neighbouring Valencia and Aragon which went up 7.3 percent and 7.5 percent respectively. ($1 = 0.8157 euros) (Reporting By Jesús Aguado Editing by Julien Toyer and John Stonestreet)

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