Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Swisscom AG advanced in Zurich trading after Switzerland voted against curbing executive pay at government-owned companies including the country’s biggest phone carrier.

Shares of the provider of landline, wireless and Internet services rose as much as 2.3 percent to the highest level in a month and were up 2.1 percent to 488.40 francs at 9:12 a.m. local time.

Voters dismissed on Sunday the “Pro Service Public” initiative, designed to improve public services. The measure would have limited salaries at state-controlled companies including Swisscom and banned cross-subsidization between such firms and stopped them from making a profit from basic services.

The result is a relief for a company battling increased competition in its domestic market. Swisscom, which competes with Sunrise Communications Group AG and billionaire Xavier Niel’s Salt, cut its cost targets after missing profit estimates for 2015. It warned price pressure may continue to erode revenue even as the company is increasing spending in network expansion.

“The No vote is a vote in favor of modern public services” and allows Swisscom to “compete successfully,” the company said in a statement welcoming the outcome.

Investor concerns about cooling sales and profit had mounted before the referendum, pushing the shares close to their lowest since 2013. They had lost 4.9 percent this year through last week.

The Swiss government sold Swisscom shares to the public in 1998, when it opened the country’s telecommunications market to competition. It has retained a majority stake ever since and currently has 51 percent.

Plebiscites are a key feature of Switzerland’s political system and are typically held four times a year. The current referendum followed a 2013 vote that introduced some of the toughest rules on executive pay.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roxana Zega in Zurich at rzega@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Cecile Vannucci at cvannucci1@bloomberg.net, Ville Heiskanen, Kim McLaughlin

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