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Investment bonanza

Takeovers drive Swiss corporate spending spree

Investment by foreign companies in Switzerland shot up last year to levels greater than those seen before the 2008 financial crisis. Swiss firms were also spending far more money abroad in 2015 than in the previous year.

The latest figures by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showed impressive investments both coming into Switzerland and being splurged abroad by Swiss firms. Switzerland jumped from the 38th most desirable destination for foreign corporate spending to 6th.

The amounts invested in Switzerland swelled from $7 billion in 2014 to an estimated $69 billion (CHF66 billion) last year. This is the highest figure for many years, easily beating the CHF55 billion posted in 2006, according to figures from the Swiss National Bank.

On the other side of the coin, Swiss firms reversed their 2014 policy of pulling investments out of foreign markets, which had resulted in a negative $3 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) abroad. In 2015, spending shot up to +$70 billion.

This is some way short of the CHF95 billion Swiss firms spent abroad in 2006, but enough to catapult Switzerland from rank 158 to 7 in the UNCTAD list of big overseas investors.

The spending spree was fueled by some large takeover deals last year, led by the merger of Swiss cement company Holcim with French rival Lafarge to create a CHF43.5 billion super company. Pharmaceuticals firm Novartis was also extremely active in 2015, swapping its vaccines business with GlaxoSmithKline’s oncology unit.

UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2016 found that FDI flows across the globe had improved last year to reach $1.76 trillion billion – up 38% from 2014 and the highest levels since the financial crisis.



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