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Hans-Rudolf Merz

Ex-finance minister blames heart attack on UBS bailout

By swissinfo.ch and agencies

Switzerland’s former finance minister says he believes the stress of bailing out the country’s biggest bank, UBS, caused him to suffer a heart attack.

Hans-Rudolf Merz, 73, was finance minister from 2003 to 2010. He suffered the heart attack at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 as Switzerland embarked on the bailout of UBS, which was hit by massive subprime mortgage losses in the United States.

Merz told Wednesday’s edition of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung that he was fit at the time and believes the heart attack resulted from “momentary overloading due to the UBS rescue”.

He said he had learnt on the day it happened that authorities might have to provide some $60 billion (CHF58 billion) in guarantees.

“I hadn't expected this immense sum. That simply knocked me over,” he said.

Merz underwent a quintuple heart bypass on September 21 and returned to work on November 3.

In his absence, Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf took over as acting finance minister, an office she moved to full-time when Merz retired in 2010.

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swissinfo.ch and agencies


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