Ascom job losses dominate business news

The new chief executive at Ascom, Urs Fischer, is behind the planned job cuts at the telecommunications group Keystone Archive

The main business news this week was Wednesday's announcement from the Bern-based technology group, Ascom that it was to cut 1,100 jobs - some ten per cent of its workforce. About 400 positions are to go in Switzerland.

This content was published on June 15, 2001 minutes

Union officials condemned the cuts which come at a time when the company is posting healthy profits. The job losses are part of an on-going restructuring programme.

In other corporate news this week, Sulzer Medica said it expected 1,850 people to have to undergo revision surgery as a result of its ongoing recall of faulty hip implants.

Medica started the recall last year after it became aware of the fault. Most patients affected are in the United States where the company is facing legal action. The company's share price has been hit hard by the recall particularly since it admitted that it wasn't fully insured to replace the faulty implants.

Another company facing pressure on its share price is the aviation group, Swissair. Investors remain anxious about losses which amounted to nearly SFr3 billion ($1.64 billion) last year.

The share price was hit again this week by media reports that a withdrawal from its loss making French operations could be much more expensive than feared. There was also a warning from ABN/Amro that the share price could fall as low as SFr70. It is currently hovering around the SFr105 mark.

Credit Suisse First Boston this week filed its defence with Wall Street securities regulators investigating alleged irregularities in the bank's handling of Initial Public Offerings.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the bank is arguing that it should not face charges of excessive commissions because the fees it received did not exceed an industry benchmark of five per cent of the transactions' value.

The hearing systems group, Phonak, saw its annual net profit almost double to SFr65.7 million on sales of SFr460 million. The company said its new digital hearing aid, Claro, generated 30 per cent of sales.

Swisscom continued to refocus on its mobile and data businesses by selling an Italian subsidiary to the Dutch company, Grapes.

And the technology group, Unaxis announced on Wednesday that it had bought the British company, Nimbus, for an undisclosed sum.

In economic news, the Swiss National Bank surprised analysts by keeping interest rates unchanged following its quarterly monetary policy meeting on Thursday.

The Bank's president, Jean-Pierre Roth, said economic prospects in Switzerland had scarcely changed since March when it lowered the target band for the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) to 2.75 per cent to 3.75 per cent.

by Michael Hollingdale

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