Cabinet appoints private banker to national bank

SNB board member-elect Philipp Hildebrand has not ruled out further interest rate cuts Keystone

The Swiss cabinet has chosen a 39-year-old academic and private banker - Philipp Hildebrand - to join the three-member governing board of the Swiss National Bank (SNB).

This content was published on March 9, 2003 - 16:58

Hildebrand's appointment to the crucial post was announced on Friday, in a move that was widely welcomed.

The make-up of the bank's board has long been a source of political tension in Switzerland, with leftwing parties accusing it of being dominated by board members linked to the centre-right Radical Party.

Hildebrand - who will replace the board's outgoing vice-chairman, Bruno Gehrig, in the summer - told Swiss media he was eager to continue the bank's ongoing monetary policy.

He described the bank's record during the 1990s boom years as "courageous" and "independent".

Hildebrand said the bank's monetary policy in recent years had been a proactive response to the worldwide collapse in asset prices.

The SNB on Thursday took markets by surprise with a larger-than-expected interest rate cut, slashing half a percentage point off its key short-term rate.

Hildebrand told the German-language "NZZ am Sonntag" newspaper that Switzerland did not have much room left for further interest rate cuts.

However, he dismissed concern that the country stood on the brink of deflation, despite a stumbling economy and an increase in the number of bankruptcies and unemployment.

Track record

Despite his relative youth, Hildebrand takes on his new post with a lengthy track record in banking and academia.

He has studied at the University of Toronto, the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, and the European University Institute in Florence, as well as Harvard and Oxford, where he received a PhD in international relations.

He has also worked as an executive board member of the World Economic Forum (WEF), and became a partner with the US finance group, Moore Capital Management in 1997.

After moving to the Vontobel banking group in 2000 as chief investment officer, Hildebrand returned to Switzerland.

A year later he shifted to the board of the Geneva-based private bank, Union Bancaire Privée, a position he will relinquish when he moves to the SNB.

Hildebrand's achievements also extend to the world of sport. A former Swiss swimming champion, he narrowly missed out on qualification for the 1984 Olympics.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Cabinet on Friday elected Philipp Hildebrand (39) to the board of the Swiss National Bank (SNB)

Hildebrand studied political science in Toronto, Geneva, Florence, the USA and Britain.

He worked as executive board member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) as well as with Moore Capital Management and the Vontobel banking group.

Since 2001, he has been the general director and a board member of Geneva's Union Bancaire Privée.

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