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Swiss banks confident about future

Nine out of 10 Swiss banks are positive about the future despite increasing regulations and a clamp down on tax evasion, according to a survey.

More than half of the 60 survey respondents said they had come out of the financial crisis in better shape. Two thirds forecast positive developments in the global financial markets in 2011.

The Bank Barometer 2011, produced on Tuesday by consultancy firm Ernst & Young, tested the expectations and fears of the Swiss banking community over the next 12 months.

The main concern is that profits will be hit by the cost of a mounting burden of regulations that cannot be passed on to customers. Another worry, expressed by 55 per cent of banks, was that real estate prices are reaching unsustainable levels in some parts of Switzerland.

But nearly three quarters of respondents were confident that a proposed withholding tax on foreign assets invested in Switzerland would have a positive impact on business. Switzerland is currently negotiating deals with Britain and Germany to solve an ongoing row over Swiss banks shielding money that has not been declared to the relevant tax authorities.

Competition is expected to heat up in the private banking sector, with 47 per cent of banks believing consolidation of the sector is imminent. Another third of respondents believe takeovers will be inevitable at a later stage.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR