Spain Regulator Rues Opportunity Missed to Attract Brexit Exiles

(Bloomberg) -- Spain’s securities regulator said the country missed a trick by not pushing hard enough to attract business forced out of the U.K. by Brexit.

The number of companies that are likely to move to Spain will be “relatively modest,” Sebastian Albella, chairman of the CNMV, said in Madrid on Monday. Instead, Albella said the big winners will probably be the obvious candidates, Frankfurt and Paris, but also financial hubs against which Madrid may have felt it stood a chance - Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Dublin.

Albella blamed Spain’s failure in part on political instability caused especially by the secessionist movement in Catalonia but also the ousting of the People’s Party and its replacement by the Socialists, who are governing with a minority in parliament. He also took a shot at Spain’s government, suggesting that it could have done more, such as offering tax incentives, as other countries have done, to lure Brexit exiles.

“I want to do a bit of self-criticism here at the lack of push or a real coordinated effort by authorities and the private sector,” Albella said in a speech in Madrid. “Frankly I think we’ve been found lacking.”

Spain’s successes in luring Brexit business have been few and far between. Insurance company Admiral Group is moving some of its operations to Madrid and Seville to serve its European business outside of the U.K. Credit Suisse Group AG is said to be moving 50 investment banking jobs to Madrid as part of its post-Brexit planning while Citigroup Inc. has already moved some of its Southern European private-banking team to Spain.

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