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Mikron set to stay in Swiss hands

Mikron specialises in high-tech production machines. Mikron

A group of Swiss investors has stepped in to try to rescue the Mikron machine and components company in Biel from bankruptcy.

Led by industrialist and parliamentarian Johann Schneider-Ammann, the group plans to inject SFr100 million ($77.55 million) to repair the damage to the company’s ailing balance sheet.

The restructuring includes plans to reduce the par value of Mikron shares from SFr50 to 10 cents.

In a statement, the company said that all balance sheet restructuring scenarios had included a reduction in capital, a waiver of claims on the part of lenders and the injection of new capital.

Shareholders will be asked on June 18 to approve the cut in capital.

Mikron on Monday announced losses in 2002 of SFr141.8 million, after it booked more than SFr100 million in one-off costs. The firm made a loss of SFr127 million in 2001.

Missed target

The rescue plan comes after Mikron failed to hit its 2002 target of reducing debt by SFr150 million to around SFr200 million. Net liabilities were SFr322 million at the end of 2002.

Schneider-Ammann, who is head of the Langenthal-based Ammann Group and president of the Swissmem machine industry association, is set to become chairman of the new board of directors of Mikron and one of two company chief executives.

Mikron, whose shares have plunged by more than 80 per cent over the past year, has said it now expects a positive operating result for 2003 as a whole.

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