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BANING SECTOR

Catalunya Banc and unions reach deal on dismissal of 2,153 employees

Nationalized lender being readied for sale to pay severance packages of between 30,000 and 235,000 euros

Clara Blanchar

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The management of Catalunya Banc and representatives of employees at the nationalized bank have reached an agreement on a labor-force adjustment plan (ERE) that calls for 2,153 layoffs, including 401 workers over the age of 50, labor union leaders said Wednesday.

The dismissals are to be phased in through to the end of 2014. After marathon talks, the accord reached in the early hours of Wednesday morning entails severance packages worth from 30,000 euros for those who have been with the bank the least amount of time to 235,000 for long-serving managers. The eventual number to be laid off was lower than the figure of 2,400, a third of the bank’s workforce, proposed by management.

Catalunya Banc was taken over by the state’s Orderly Bank Restructuring Fund (FROB) after it got into problems because of its overexposure to the real estate sector. The FROB is preparing the way for its privatization, a key aspect of which was slimming down its workforce. In a statement, Catalunya Banc said the ERE agreement would make the bank “more attractive in the process of its sale.” “After the agreed pact, the institution will be an even more efficient bank with a considerable market share in Catalonia and a well-known brand.”

A court has targeted the bank’s former chairman, Narcís Serra, former general manager Adolf Todó and 52 other board members as official suspects in a case of possible criminal mismanagement involving huge bonus and severance packages awarded just before the bank was nationalized, despite the executives’ knowledge of the parlous state of its finances.

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