* Bank saw "moderate negative impact" on deposit flows
* No plans to transfer staff or units for now
* Q3 net profit rises 49 pct, beats analysts' forecasts (Recasts, adds quotes, details)
MADRID, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Caixabank's decision to move its legal headquarters out of Catalonia to calm investors was permanent, the lender's CEO said on Tuesday, saying the crisis between Spain and Catalonia had prompted some deposit outflows.
Catalonia's independence drive and its potential fallout on financial markets partially overshadowed Caixabank's solid set of third-quarter results, which beat analysts' forecasts after the acquisition of Portugal's BPI.
Caixabank, Spain's third-largest lender, decided to move its legal headquarters to Valencia early in October in an attempt to calm deposit holders.
CEO of Barcelona-based Caixabank, Gonzalo Gortazar, said on Tuesday that the row between Madrid and Catalonia has had "a moderate negative" impact on deposits since a banned Oct. 1 vote for independence in the region.
The outflow of deposits had since reversed, Gortazar added, although he would not give specific figures or a timeframe.
"From October 1, we could detect nerves in our clients ... as a result of the uneasiness, the board decided to move the headquarters to leave no doubt that we will always be under the umbrella of the euro area and the supervision of the European Central Bank", Gortazar said.
The political situation was not good for Spain's economy and the situation could worsen if the political crisis was not solved, he said.
Spain cut its 2018 economic growth forecast from 2.6 percent to 2.3 percent due to the political turmoil and has delayed approving next year's budget until the situation is resolved.
Rising nervousness among businesses and financial institutions also prompted Banco Sabadell, the country's fifth largest bank, to transfer its legal headquarters out of Catalonia. It is also considering moving its top management to Madrid.
However, Gortazar said Caixabank did not plan to transfer staff or business units out of the restive region for now.
More than 1,300 companies have transferred their legal headquarters out of Catalonia due to the current uncertainty, according to the national companies registry.
Madrid has urged Catalans to accept its decision to dismiss their secessionist leadership and to take control of the region, which accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy.
Banco Sabadell, Caixabank and BBVA are the most exposed Spanish lenders to Catalonia, with around one-third of their total deposits coming from the region. Their shares have underperformed their Spanish and European peers.
Caixabank shares, which have lost around 10 percent of their value since the trading day before the Catalan independence ballot, were up 0.5 percent at 1054 GMT, compared to a 0.3 percent gain on the European STOXX banking index.
The bank said on Tuesday third quarter net profit was a record 649 million euros, an almost 49 percent increase against the previous quarter, thanks to a contribution of 103 million euros from BPI, whose acquisition was completed in February.
Ultra-low interest rates and competition for a lacklustre loan market have pressured bank margins in Spain, steadily trimming income from lending and forcing them to focus on other revenue sources and new markets.
Net interest income, a measure of earnings on loans minus deposit costs, was 1.2 billion euros in the third quarter, up 15.6 percent from a year ago but just 0.4 percent higher against the previous quarter, the lender said.
($1 = 0.8506 euros) (Reporting by Jesús Aguado; Editing by Alexander Smith and Edmund Blair)