Worldwide Subsidiaries of Catalan Companies


June 2014.- Catalonia has an open and dynamic economy with a clear international character. Proof of this is found in both export volumes and in the level of incoming foreign investment Catalonia captures yearly.


Specifically, in 2013 Catalonia showed exports with a value of €58,358.7 M, record figures a third year running. The level of maturity of internationalisation of Catalan firms varies. In 2013, a total of 49,050 Catalan companies exported, 6.8% more than in 2012, this being a new record. Of these, 14,680 are regular exporting companies (firms that have exported consistently over the four last years), 6.4% more than in 2012, a figure that beats the then record figure of 862 in 2008. The companies with the greatest level of internationalisation are those that have shifted from selling their products or services to third countries to actually locating abroad with productive commercial or representative subsidiaries.

Investment abroad



An ACCIÓ study on Catalan companies with subsidiaries abroad shows that Catalonia has 6,156 subsidiaries established in different parts of the world belonging to 2,586 Catalan firms. 

Subsidiaries are mainly found in Portugal (601), France (597), Mexico (466), the United States (428) and Brazil (402). Catalan subsidiaries in other countries include Italy (361), Germany (301), UK (256), Argentina (207), China (194), Chile (181), Poland (168), Romania (145), Holland (123) and Morocco (106).




On a sector level these subsidiaries have strong productive diversity: 8.3% are consulting firms, 8.2% belong to the chemical sector, 7.6% are finance and insurance firms and 7.3% are building firms.



In terms of the value chain, industrial firms are the origin of 30.8% of the parent companies of these subsidiaries. This figure is very close to the following category, with 28.5% belonging to the service sector.


Parent companies


If we look at the parent companies, the sectorial distribution varies slightly, although we see once again in first place the consulting sector, followed by the machinery and equipment sector and the building sector taking third place.



When we make the distinction in terms of value chain, it is the service sector that tops the ranking (30.8%) with the industrial sector coming second (29.4%).

Nevertheless the difference between the two is slight, in line with the data analysed for the subsidiaries themselves. Therefore, we see a balanced service and industrial sector.


Business dimension

Finally, the ACCIÓ database of Catalan companies established abroad also allows us to analyse the dimension of these firms. We can then determine that the Catalan firms with subsidiaries abroad show an average size of €47.5 M in turnover and an average workforce of 166. 

€ 0-1 m 468 22.37%
€ 1-5 m 448 21.41%
€ 5-10 m 287 13.72%
€ 10-20 m 285 13.62%
€ >20 m 604 28.87%


0-9 664 31.76%
10-49 629 30.08%
50-99 288 13.77%
100-199 241 11.53%
> 200 269 12.86%


Analysing these charts, we can see that the sample of Catalan firms abroad is relatively balanced despite the fact that 62% of the firms in the sample have less than 50 workers.





ACCIÓ based on SABI and information provided by ACCIÓ’s Business Promotion Centres around the world. Data for 2014. 

The data regarding turnover and workforce are –in most cases– based on 2012 figures.


The figures in this article include catalan firms with one subsidiary abroad in which there is a minimum investment of 10% of capital of the subsidiary. a catalan company is considered as such when it has a permanent location in catalonia with a corporate tax id number (cif), irrespective of the final source of its capital. the analysis is performed on a sample of 2,092 firms in the catalan companies with subsidiaries abroad census.

Inma Rodríguez

inma rodríquez
business intelligence director
invest in catalonia

Catalonia in Business