Sulzer Medica sees light at end of tunnel

Good news for Sulzer Medica Keystone

The past week in business saw a United States federal appeals court confirm a freeze on individual claims against Sulzer Medica.

This content was published on December 1, 2001 - 12:13

The court in Cincinnati, Ohio, ruled that the freeze on lawsuits against the medical technology company resulting from faulty hip and knee implants would remain in force until February 1.

If an agreement between the claimants and Sulzer Medica has not been reached by then, it will be lifted.

"We are very pleased to have achieved this mutual agreement to put the litigation on hold for two months while we engage a mediator to hear the claims and work with both parties to find a solution," Sulzer Medica spokeswoman, Beatrice Tschanz told swissinfo.

"Equitable" solution

"We remain convinced that the class settlement remains the fastest, fairest and most equitable solution both for patients and shareholders."

Sulzer Medica's proposed settlement would cost the company $783 million and would be financed partly by insurance coverage and partly by net income over the next few years.

New orders for the Swiss mechanical and electrical engineering industries - Switzerland's largest export branch - have been hit by the current economic climate.

The industries' umbrella organisation, Swissmem, said this week that orders fell by 17.4 per cent in the third quarter and warned of possible job cuts.

"The figure say more about the world economy than the state of Swiss industry," explained Swissmem director, Thomas Daum. "The US economy has seen a sharp downturn and Europe and Asia have followed. Swiss industry is also suffering the consequences."

Daum also blamed the strength of the Swiss franc for the industries' problems. The franc has been trading around SFr1.465 against the euro. Economists say a level of around SFr1.50 is a satisfactory rate for the country's exporters.

CSFBdirect sale

Credit Suisse First Boston is selling its online trading platform CSFBdirect to the Bank of Montreal for $520 million.

The deal is the latest move by CSFB to slash costs amid slumping markets.
The investment banking arm of the Credit Suisse Group recently revealed third quarter losses of almost $400 million.

There was good news for CSFB from the United States, where the Manhattan attorney's office announced there would be no criminal charges against the bank for its role in allocating shares in initial public offerings.

But CSFB, still stinging from a rap on the knuckles from Japanese authorities for helping corporate clients hide losses, might still face civil suits.

The US authorities have been investigating several banks over the allocation of shares in debuting hi-tech companies at the end of the nineties.

Switzerland's inflation rate has dropped to its lowest level for three years - just 0.3 per cent in November compared to the previous year-month. Lower energy prices drove inflation down and gave the Swiss National Bank some welcome room to cut interest rates when it meets next week.

Richest Swiss

And finally, Switzerland's 300 richest men and women are poorer by some SFr30 billion this year according to the annual league table published in Bilanz magazine.

But although the crash in high-tech stocks took its toll, the super rich are still worth SFr390 billion.

The richest of them all is Serono chief, Ernesto Bertarelli, whose fortune is estimated at between SFr13 and SFr14 billion, despite a 30 per cent decline in the value of the bio-tech company's share price.

The majority shareholding families of the Roche pharmaceutical group come off worst this year with their fortune shrinking by about SFr5 billion. But the clan remains fourth in the filthy rich league table.

By Michael Hollingdale

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In compliance with the JTI standards

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