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Business week in review

It was a busy week on the Swiss business scene, with the announcement of details of new measures to counteract money laundering and the sale of Swiss brewer Feldschlösschen to Denmark's Carlsberg.

A group of the world's largest banks, including Switzerland's UBS and Credit Suisse groups, agreed on Monday to a set of global anti-money laundering guidelines for international private banks.

The new guidelines were announced in Zurich by 11 banks and by Transparency International, the global anti-corruption organisation.

Also in the news on Monday was a major shake-up at Switzerland's largest travel and tourism group, Kuoni. As of next year, the Zurich-based company will no longer be organised according to geographical regions, but according to their functions.

However, Kuoni said that the accounting system would remain the same in order to facilitate comparisons with past years' performances.

On Tuesday, a report showed that one third of Swiss people between 18 and 74 years of age were investing in the stock market. The Swiss Banking Institute of Zurich University reported that 1,660,000 Swiss owned shares and that the Swiss were among the world's leaders in terms of playing the stock market.

The housing market also came under the spotlight as a report revealed that the cost of renting or buying a home in Switzerland was three times higher than it was 30 years ago.

The report by Büro Wüest and Partner, compiled for the Swiss National Bank, showed that costs were likely to increase further over the next year, with house prices set to rise for the next decade.

On the corporate front, a newspaper report on Thursday claimed that the German telecommunications giant, Deutsche Telekom, had failed to reach agreement on the purchase of a majority stake in Swiss phone operator Diax.

The German edition of the Financial Times said that the collapse in negotiations left Deutsche Telekom without a partner in the Swiss third generation mobile phone licence auctions which start on November 13.

The biggest news on the corporate front came on Friday as the Danish brewery Carslberg announced it was taking over the drinks division of Switzerland's largest beverages producer, Feldschlösschen, for SFr870 million ($488.8 million).

A statement from Feldschlösschen headquarters at Rheinfelden said that Carlsberg was acquiring the entire beer, mineral water and soft drinks businesses.

by Tom O'Brien

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