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Phonak headquarters in Stäfa, just outside of Zurich

(Keystone)

The Swiss hearing systems maker, Phonak, has announced a 25 per cent rise in annual sales to SFr577 million - exceeding market growth.

The company said it expected earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation to reach as much as SFr77 million, and organic sales growth for the coming year of more than 10 per cent.

In February Phonak cut earnings forecast by 30 per cent due to market pressures and restructuring costs.

Economiesuisse

The umbrella organisation for Swiss business, economiesuisse, fears that tax increases could result in Switzerland losing its international competitive edge.

According to its annual report released on Thursday, the chance of an immediate reversal of the tax-raising policies of the 1990s seems remote.

Switzerland's financial policy remains the organisation's main concern, especially after a turbulent year for business in 2001. And it wants more emphasis on liberalising the country's economic policy.

Profitable birthday for Swiss Railways

The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has announced a 124.5 per cent increase in profits for 2001 to SFr314.1 million.

The company, which has just celebrated its 100th birthday, said the results were due to several factors including the partial sell-off of its Sunrise shares and dissolving reserves.

Although overall turnover was up 1.5 per cent, trading results were down over the previous year by 23.6 per cent.

Passenger travel helped boost profits with an 18.1 per cent increase to SFr80.1 million, but the freight service made a loss of SFr68 million.

The SBB plans to invest SFr100 million in new locomotives to increase freight capacity, while the trend in passenger numbers is expected to increase. In 2001, 304.2 million people used the railways - up 17.4 million from the year before.

Société Général de Surveillance

Société Général de Surveillance Holding (SGS) has completed its takeover of Lakefield Research Ltd for SFr48.1 million.

Canadian-based Lakefield is the world leader in testing and research services to the minerals and metals sector, especially in metallurgical, mineralogical and environment fields. With facilities in Canada, South Africa, Australia, Brazil and Chile, it has revenues of over SFr42 million.

SGS said that the acquisition established it as the market leader in minerals, and would enable it to cover the entire chain of the global minerals market.

SGS supplies verification, testing and certification services to the minerals sector. It is the world's largest inspection and testing group.

Hügli

The Hügli food group has posted an increase in profits of 6.6 per cent to SFr9.7 million for 2001.

Turnover for last year also rose - up 7.2 per cent to SFr197.2. first quarter figures for 2002 saw a continuation of growth with turnover climbing 5.2 per cent.

The board will ask for an increase in dividends form 9 to 10 per cent at the company's general meeting on May 22nd.

Mikron Holding AG

The Swiss technology group, Mikron, has confimed losses of SFr127.3 ($77.7)million for 2001 after net profits of SFr34 million for the previous year.

The company, which makes electrical components and parts for the automotive industry, forecast in March that it would lose more than SFr125 million due to restructuring costs and a SFr88 million "goodwill" gesture to write off certain areas of its business.

Despite the gloomy news, Mikron is upbeat about its performance potential for 2002.

It said its current objective was to achieve a healthy balance sheet by the end of the year, with substantial divestments improving its structure and focus.

Its budget projections for 2002 are based on a lack of sales growth in a slow economic environment.


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