Seat Reassures Employees Amid Catalonia Unrest -Letter

By Marc Navarro Gonzalez Features Dow Jones Newswires

Spanish car maker Seat took steps to reassure employees on Tuesday, saying that it would only move its registered headquarters from Catalonia if it felt its legal protection was in doubt.

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In an internal letter seen by Dow Jones Newswires, Seat Chairman Luca de Meo said the company is deeply rooted in Catalonia, but also bound to the European Union.

Seat, a unit of Volkswagen AG (VOW.XE), makes more than 85% of its sales in Europe.

"Political stability and legal certainty, together with belonging to the European Union, are essential to ensure the economic and employment sustainability of our company and its subsidiaries, and to maintain the trust of our customers and shareholders," Mr. de Meo said.

He said it would made sense to relocate Seat's registered office when management felt it no longer had legal protection. He said the company hasn't had to make a decision because it has so far been able to operate normally.

In recent weeks, companies such as Gas Natural SDG SA (GAS.MC), CaixaBank SA (CABK.MC), Banco de Sabadell SA (SAB.MC) and Abertis Infraestructuras SA (ABE.MC) have said they would move their legal headquarters out of Catalonia.

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The region has been in turmoil since Oct. 1, when the it held a referendum on independence, which the central government in Madrid called illegal.

There have since been several pro-independence protests, and Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for the removal the Catalan regional government.

Seat is the largest employer in Spain's automobile sector, with more than 14,000 workers at its sites in Catalonia. Its largest production facility is in Martorell, some 20 miles outside Barcelona. At the site, Seat vehicles are produced as well as models for Volkswagen luxury brand Audi.

Earlier this month, Seat said it was monitoring developments related to Catalan independence, after a regional strike caused disruption at one of its plants.

Write to Marc Navarro Gonzalez at marc.navarrogonzalez@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 24, 2017 11:59 ET (15:59 GMT)