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Blocher cuts stake in EMS Chemie

Christoph Blocher has surprised the markets with his decision to reduce his stake in EMS Chemie to 50.1 per cent.

The businessman and rightwing populist politician had been expected to try to take the firm private.

EMS announced on Wednesday that Blocher’s EMESTA Holding would reduce its stake and voting rights to 50.1 per cent.

EMS said it would also be introducing a unified share structure, with stock being split 50 for one for bearer shares and ten for one for registered shares.

Some traders welcomed the limited share float, but said that with Blocher still holding the majority of shares not much was likely to change.

“At the moment, we have no need for capital,” Blocher told a news conference, adding that EMS could afford new investments.

He said that the situation could change, though, and that the firm could face restrictions in raising capital due to its limited free float, which had put off many investors and disqualified EMS from a listing on the Swiss bourse’s blue-chip index, the SMI.

Voting rights

Blocher – figurehead of Switzerland’s rightwing Swiss People’s Party – currently has a 68 per cent stake as well as almost 85 per cent of the voting rights.

The firm also said it would be focusing on its polymers business and seeking to grow both internally and through acquisitions.

Blocher added that he expected EMS operating profit for last year to match 2001’s figure of SFr163 million, and a positive net profit.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR