German drugmaker Stada says anti-Catalonia boycotts weigh

by Reuters
Thursday, 9 November 2017 14:19 GMT

FRANKFURT, Nov 9 (Reuters) - German generic drugmaker Stada became the latest international company to grapple with the economic fallout from Catalonia's secessionist push, saying its Barcelona-based Spanish subsidiary was being boycotted by pharmacies in the rest of the country.

Catalonia's independence drive has led to an exodus of businesses from the region amid upheaval such as a general strike called by pro-independence campaigners on Wednesday to protest at the imprisonment of Catalan politicians.

"Companies that are based in Catalonia are experiencing a very strong tendency for rest-of-Spain pharmacies not to buy or order any more," Stada's Chief Executive Claudio Albrecht told journalists during a conference call to discuss quarterly results on Thursday.

"Unfortunately Spain has a history of these kinds of boycotts. We're suffering from this at the moment but there are ways to work around it," he said.

When asked what changes, he responded: "You could move to Madrid."

Since the Catalan government staged the Oct. 1 independence referendum, which courts deemed illegal, a number of Catalonia-based companies have faced boycotts from other Spanish regions organised on social media against their goods.

Freixenet, one of Spain's leading sparkling-wine producers based close to Barcelona, warned in October that a boycott campaign against it could hurt its earnings.

Anti-independence activists even launched a mobile application called "SeparApp" which flagged companies that produced goods in Catalonia. It was later removed from the Google Play app store and its website closed.

More than 2,200 companies have shifted their headquarters out of Catalonia since the referendum, according to data from the company registry.

Stada earlier cited political turbulence following the Catalonia referendum as one of the reasons why group earnings in the fourth quarter should be lower than in the third.

Its third-quarter generic drug sales in Spain edged 2 percent higher to 27 million euros on new product launches.

The Catalan independence push has deeply divided Spain, dragging it into its worst political crisis since the return of democracy four decades ago and fuelling anti-Spanish sentiment in Catalonia and nationalist tendencies elsewhere.

The Catalan parliament's speaker and five lawmakers are appearing on Thursday before Spain's Supreme Court in Madrid to answer charges of rebellion and sedition for their roles in staging the referendum. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Additional reporting by Angus Berwick in Madrid; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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