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National Bank reports CHF12 billion loss

2013 wasn't a golden year for the Swiss National Bank Keystone

Provisional calculations show that the Swiss National Bank (SNB) will report a CHF12 billion ($13.2 billion) loss for the 2013 financial year – a result that will preclude surplus distribution.

Gold devaluation was a major factor, with losses on gold holdings amounting to about CHF15 billion. This cancelled out gains of CHF3 billion on foreign currency positions as well as CHF3 billion in profits from the sale of the stabilisation fund (StabFund) set up five years ago to bail UBS out during the financial crisis.

After another CHF3 billion are allocated to the provisions for currency reserves, the bottom line will be in the red – with a CHF12-billion loss.

As this loss will be substantially larger than the CHF5.3 billion in the distribution reserve, the SNB will not be able to make a profit distribution – as required by the National Bank Act and the profit distribution agreement between the finance ministry and the SNB.

This will affect both dividend payments to shareholders and the surplus distribution at the federal and cantonal levels.

It is the first time in the history of the bank that the country’s 26 cantons are not awarded a share of the surplus. It made up between CHF1.3 million and CHF11.5 million in the cantonal budgets in 2012.  

The detailed report on the annual result, which will contain definitive figures, will be released on March 7. The annual report will be published on March 25.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR