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Swiss firms hungry for foreign bosses

Belgian national Paul Bulcke has been head of food giant Nestlé since 2008 Keystone

Swiss companies are increasingly turning to foreign candidates as they look to switch chief executives. Last year, 50% of all CEO candidates at the largest-listed Swiss companies came from abroad (10% more than 2014). By comparison, foreigners made up 23% of new CEOs hires worldwide.

This content was published on April 19, 2016 - 15:46
swissinfo.ch

The findings of the study, compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Strategy&, were largely in line with an earlier report by headhunter firm guidoschilling. This broader study revealed that 43% of new executive hires (not just CEOs) and 60% of new board members at a larger selection of firms last year were foreigners.

The PwC/Strategy& report listed three possible reasons for the foreign trend: an increase in takeovers and shareholder activism; more companies getting into financial difficulties; and a “natural preference” for non-Swiss CEOs, which has become more pronounced with each generation.

The wider debate over foreign workers has heated up since a referendum in 2014 called on the government to set limits on the number of migrants. Numbers of immigrants had risen significantly after Switzerland agreed a bilateral agreement with the European Union on the free movement of people.

But this has not stopped more non-Swiss being interviewed and appointed to the top executive jobs at Swiss firms.

The number of foreign companies setting up in Switzerland (264) dropped 4% last year on 2014. But the number of jobs these new arrivals created increased significantly – from 780 in 2014 to 1,082 in 2015.
 

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