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Sunday December 17th, 2017 4:34PM

The Latest: Caixabank considering relocating from Catalonia

By The Associated Press
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Latest on Spain's political crisis amid Catalonia's push for independence (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

Spain's third largest bank in terms of volume of assets is considering a relocation of its registration outside of Catalonia but says nothing has been decided yet while executives follow developments of the secession bid in the northeastern region.

Barcelona-based Caixabank "reiterates that the necessary decisions will be taken, in due course, always with the objective of protecting the interests of our customers, shareholders and employees at all times."

A bank spokesman, who couldn't be named under company policy, said that according to internal rules, the bank's board would need permission from its shareholders.

—By Aritz Parra.

___

3:40 p.m.

Spain's Prime Minister has urged the separatist leader of the regional Catalan government to cancel plans for declaring independence in northeastern region, in order to avoid "greater evils."

In an interview with Spain's official EFE news agency, Mariano Rajoy said that the solution in Catalonia "is the prompt return to legality and the affirmation, as early as possible, that there will be no unilateral declaration of independence, because that way greater evils will be avoided."

Rajoy's remarks were the first since Sunday evening, after Catalonia held a banned referendum on independence amid police violence, and ahead of a planned regional lawmakers' meeting on Monday where secession plans are to be discussed, or even passed. Spain's Constitutional Court has ordered the temporary suspension of that session.

Regional president Carles Puigdemont on Wednesday toned down his defiant stance by calling for mediation in the conflict but without renouncing plans for secession next week.

___

3:20 p.m.

Spain's Constitutional Court has ordered the temporary suspension of a special session of Catalonia's parliament next week where regional officials are expected to possibly vote on breaking away from Spain.

The opposition Socialist bloc in the regional parliament, where separatist parties have a narrow majority of seats, had called for Monday's session to be blocked.

Lawyers for the regional parliament had also warned that the session would be illegal because it discusses results of a referendum over the weekend that had been previously suspended by the Constitutional Court.

Sunday's independence referendum has sparked a major political crisis in Spain.

___

12:30 p.m.

Spanish national police officers have left a hotel in a Catalan town amid two sets of protesters — one side yelling at them to leave and another showing support for them.

The additional deployment of Spanish police forces has enraged many in Catalonia who say that officers used excessive force when cracking down on last weekend's banned independence referendum. Spain's government has praised the police response, calling it proportionate.

Spain's Interior Ministry said in a statement that the departures of officers from the hotel in Pineda de Mar had been previously scheduled, as contracts ended Thursday with some of the hotels hosting the police reinforcements.

Because of difficulties in finding accommodation on land, some of the more than 5,000 extra Spanish officers have been sleeping on three ferries docked in Barcelona and nearby Tarragona.

___

12:15 p.m.

As the clock ticks toward Catalonia's promised declaration of independence from Spain, the clamor for dialogue and mediation in the political crisis is gathering momentum in Spain.

But so far the central government is sticking to its stance of not talking to those wanting to break up the country.

Catalonia's regional parliament meets Monday to evaluate the results of last weekend's divisive referendum, and pro-independence lawmakers say the declaration will be made.

On Wednesday, Barcelona lawyers set up a commission to promote talks bringing together trade unions, economists and even the city's famed Barcelona soccer club.

The leader of Spanish opposition party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, called Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday to urge him to seek mediation. But Rajoy insists Puigdemont must first drop the threat of declaring independence.

___

10:55 a.m.

Spanish media are reporting that executives in one of Catalonia's largest banks will consider Thursday whether to relocate the company's registration out of the region as separatist authorities there have pledged to go ahead with an independence declaration as early as next week.

Private news agency Europa Press reports that the Banco Sabadell board meeting Thursday afternoon will discuss the move to ensure that it remains under the legal framework of the European Central Bank, the region's financial regulator.

Europa Press said that Spanish capital Madrid, Alicante and Oviedo are some of the destinations being considered for the new registration, although the bank's central services would remain in Barcelona.

Banco Sabadell couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

The bank's shares, which have seen heavy losses in recent days, picked up on Thursday amid the speculation.

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