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Bern holds talks over its stake in UBS

The Swiss government says it is in talks with various parties over its investment in UBS but has not yet decided whether to convert its debt into shares or sell it.

Bern agreed last October to give Switzerland’s largest bank a badly-needed SFr6 billion ($5.47 billion) cash injection in exchange for mandatory convertible notes that would give it a stake of 9.3 per cent.

The lock-up period for conversion of the notes ended on Tuesday.

The finance ministry said on Tuesday it was examining various “transaction possibilities” in talks with several parties and the government would take a decision at the appropriate time.

It repeated that the government only planned to stay involved for a limited period and said its main objectives were ensuring a stable financial system and the greatest possible recouping of the government’s investment.

UBS was forced to accept government backing after massive investments in risky United States assets forced it to make billions of writedowns and led to it posting the biggest annual loss in Swiss corporate history for 2008.

The bank recorded a loss of SFr19.7 billion for the year. with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR