Sabadell: keys to a “bad operation for Catalonia” (Albert Martín)

The more than 6,000 workers that Banco Sabadell has in Catalonia and some of the more than 5,000 that BBVA has there lived a hard working day yesterday. The announcement of the merger negotiations between the two entities opens a clear scenario from a labor point of view: there will be duplications of workers for identical functions and, therefore, cuts.

Bank mergers are made on the principle of adding the customers of two entities to manage them with only a part of the staff, and this involves passing the scissors to the staff. “Neither industrial sense, nor anything, these are Esade nonsense,” a veteran banker told ARA yesterday. “The market only buys operations that involve a lot of job losses, and that’s what will happen,” the voice added. And unfortunately, between BBVA (606 offices in Catalonia) and Sabadell (478), they have an establishment that if they go together will not make sense.

For the workers who keep their jobs, the operation is very good news, as is the case for Banco Sabadell, which needs the operation as a result of its stock market drift. The problem is that who will continue on the board will not be Sabadell. Different sources consulted yesterday by this newspaper confirmed this prognosis of concern.

“We’re losing everything,” lamented an Ibex-35 veteran. “This is very bad news for Catalonia, for the Catalan economy,” he added. Another veteran of the industry agreed. “Not only is it bad news for the Principality, but especially for the workers.” A third voice lamented that the fate of the centennial Banco Sabadell had been this: “With Santander it would have been much better, but the market wants strong operations from the point of view of employment, and this was more.”

Expectation of a Catalan headquarters

These voices agree in pointing out the differences between a Banco Sabadell absorbed by BBVA and the current Seat. The automotive company is 100% in the hands of a German owner, but in Catalonia it has the top management, its operational and productive headquarters and decision-making centers, which has a positive impact on the country as a whole, not only in terms of in terms of employment, but also in less visible aspects such as investment decisions. To this is added another nuance: Sabadell is a bank, and as such, it is an economic facilitator for many companies. Loss of proximity to the decision-making center can affect the economy as a whole.

Sources familiar with the negotiations said that, in spite of everything, BBVA will maintain in Catalonia at least a part of the Catalan bank’s headquarters, well known for its management and commercial operation system. This would allow the entity to have its headquarters in Bizkaia, Madrid and Barcelona, ​​following the historical course of its major mergers. But no one dares to go into details. Official BBVA sources stated that “everything is too incipient” to talk about a Catalan headquarters.

While waiting for the small print to be known, the truth is that BBVA has obtained the most ambitious piece by the big Spanish banks (along with Bankia, which was the most solvent entity in terms of capital thanks to the injection of public money which he needed). Two aspects of Banco Sabadell stand out: on the one hand, its large portfolio of SMEs, in a business that has historically been more profitable than that of individuals. Secondly, Sabadell has a large presence in the Mediterranean arc, considered the most economically powerful area in Spain. In addition to Catalonia, the entity chaired by Josep Oliu is very important in the Valencian Country after the acquisition of the controversial CAM.

It should be remembered that Banco Sabadell is the fourth Catalan company in terms of turnover, behind Naturgy, CaixaBank and Seat.

Go back to the bag

With the operation, which is formally said to be being negotiated but which according to experts is firm because mergers are only communicated once there is the decision taken to go ahead, the two entities want to put an end to their Way of the cross stock market. Since January 1, 2008, the Catalan bank has lost 75% of its share price, and BBVA has suffered a fall of more than half of its market value in the same period. With this operation, then, both hope to be more credible in the eyes of the markets.

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