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Swatch keeps leadership in the family

Swatch has appointed Nayla Hayek as group chairwoman following the death of her father, and company founder, Nicolas G. Hayek of heart failure on Monday.

Control of the world’s largest watch manufacturer will remain firmly in family hands as expected, with Nick Hayek - son of Nicolas G - remaining as chief executive. The family also controls 41 per cent of shares.

Share prices rallied on the news of Nayla Hayek’s elevation from group vice-chair. She had been on the board of directors since 1995 and also held various operational positions.

Analysts expect Swatch to continue on its current strategic path. “I think Nick Hayek will be in control and see no change of strategy,” said John Cox of KeplerCapital Markets.

Nicolas G. Hayek, who was chairman at the time of his death, passed away suddenly at the age of 82. He created Swatch Group from the merger of two ailing Swiss watch companies in 1983.

He was also credited with saving the Swiss watch industry from foreign competition with a strategy of creating low-cost watches that swiftly became popular high street fashion items.

Swatch earlier this year reported SFr763 million ($713 million) in net income for 2009, compared with SFr838 million the previous year. The company said it was confident that sales and margins would improve in 2010.

swissinfo.ch with agencies


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