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Expo 2000 causes financial worries at Expo.02

The director of Expo.02, Nelly Wenger, believes a lot can be learnt from Germany's exhibition, Expo 2000.

(Keystone / EPA Photo / DPA / Rainer Jensen / br-bb)

The limited success of Germany's Expo 2000 has caused disquiet among backers of Switzerland's own national exhibition, Expo.02.

Banks have become more reluctant to agree to loans with the steering committee while the lack of sponsor interest has resulted in the need for more capital.

The management is currently negotiating a loan of SFr140 million, but the steering committee has admitted that they actually need SFr200 million. One Swiss Sunday newspaper suggested the figure was as high as SFr240 million.

There has been a fundamental shift in the attitude of banks in the wake of the limited success of Expo 2000 and the Dome in London, said Laurent Paoliello, spokesman for Expo.02. "What we borrow looks set to cost us a great deal more to pay back. We are hoping to borrow money at the lowest rate possible."

In negotiations with the management, financial institutions are demanding supplementary guarantees. Meanwhile, the lack of interest shown on the behalf of sponsors has increased the need for capital.

Expo.02 is negotiating a loan for the period up to February 2002 before the exhibition opens. This period will see the greatest expenditure.

When the Hannover exhibition closed at the end of October, the steering committee of Expo.02 said it had learnt useful lessons from it.

The Expo.02 directors said they had been monitoring the Hannover expo, and believed that the Swiss project was heading in the right direction.

Expo.02 said it hoped not to repeat the mistakes of Expo 2000. For example, the committee said the prices of pre-booked tickets would be more attractive.

swissinfo with agencies

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