Misc 25/05/2016

Foreign investment projects grow by 2.78% in Catalonia, drop nearly 20% in Madrid

According to consultants EY, Barcelona has become the fifth most attractive city in Europe for prospective investors

Xavier Grau
2 min
Skyline de Barcelona

BarcelonaCatalonia snatched nearly 45 per cent of all foreign investment projects in Spain and, what’s more, the figure keeps rising, according to a survey by EY, a consultancy firm. This confirms data recently published by Catalonia’s Council for Economic and Social Work (CTESC), which suggested that Madrid is now trailing behind Catalonia.

The EY report —unveiled last Tuesday— claims that up to 111 investment projects chose Catalonia as their destination in 2015, which accounts for 44.8 per cent of all foreign investment in Spain, an increase of 2.78 per cent over the previous year.

In contrast, Madrid —which took second place— managed to lure 46 investment projects, a drop of 19.3 per cent. Andalusia ranks third, with 35 projects and a 169 per cent increase, followed by Valencia, with 13 projects and a 44 per cent rise. With ten investment projects, the Basque Country came fifth but —like Madrid— it saw a drop over the year before (52 per cent).

Additionally, the EY report notes that Barcelona has climbed three spots to become the fifth most attractive city in Europe for prospective investors, whereas a year before it ranked eighth. London, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam take the first four places, with Madrid at number eight, tied with Brussels and Rome.

The report shows that 2015 was an excellent year for Europe as a whole in terms of foreign investment, with 5,083 initiatives and 217,000 new jobs, an increase of 14 and 17 per cent respectively over 2014.

The UK tops the European ranking, with 1,065 investment projects —a 20 per cent rise— followed by Germany (946 projects, up 9 per cent), France (598 projects and a 2 per cent drop) and Spain, with 258 projects and a 7 per cent hike.

Spain lured as many new projects as in 2007, just before the recession struck, with a total of 256, but still below par if you compare it to 2011 and 2012, when it wooed 273 and 274 projects respectively. In 2013 the figure dropped to 221, and it grew to 232 in 2014, and 248 in 2015.

Sources of investment

In the case of Spain, the leading foreign investor is the US, with 43 projects, followed by France (29), Germany (26), the UK (21), Japan (16) and Switzerland (14).

By sector, manufacturing lured the most projects (46 per cent), followed by finance and business services (28 per cent), transport and communications (16 per cent), retail and the hospitality industry (5 per cent), construction (2 per cent) and education (2 per cent).

The EY report reflects a certain loss of confidence in Europe by foreign investors due to the existing uncertainty and geopolitical risks. When asked whether they intended to invest in Europe this year, only 22 per cent of respondents said they did, the lowest percentage since 2013.

Nevertheless, 82 per cent of all investors expect Europe’s capacity to lure new foreign investment projects to improve or stay the same in the next three years. The factors which make Europe an attractive destination for investors are: communication networks, a skilled workforce, transport, logistic infrastructure, as well as its political and legal framework. Bottlenecks in investment are caused by the lack of employment flexibility, labour costs and business tax.

The most attractive sectors

In 2016 investors highlighted the following sectors as being the most appealing to them: IT (35 per cent), pharma and biotechnology (24 per cent), energy and utility companies (21 per cent), automotive (19 per cent), banking, insurance and asset management.