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The business week ahead

A busy week awaits the market here in Switzerland as a clutch of blue chip companies prepares for their annual general meetings.

Feldschlösschen-Hurliman holds its annual general meeting today; investors will be able to look at the group's plans to sell off its drinks division. The Swiss brewing giant is to sell off its entire drinks division, which produces almost half of the country's beverages. The company says it intends to concentrate fully on its property business.

On Tuesday, Swatch's board of directors should have an easier time in front of investors at its annual general meeting. The watchmaker, which is moving ever closer to Internet technology, is forecasting a sales rise of 15 to 20 per cent over the current year.

Wednesday will see Switzerland's second biggest retailer, Coop, make an innovative step forward. It will launch its first ever Coop Railshop in association with the Swiss Federal Railways. The convenience stores will be located on board trains.

By Thursday, the markets will be focusing on the world's biggest food group, Nestlé. Its annual general meeting in Lausanne will be marked by the departure of the chairman, Helmut Maucher.

Also on Thursday, the International Management Symposium at the University of St Gallen begins. A host of international politicians and business leaders will be meeting there, including former head of the International Monetary Fund, Michel Camdessus and UBS chairman, Alex Krauer.

The week ends with the AGM of Switzerland's second-biggest financial services group, Credit Suisse. The company registered a major profit increase of almost SFr2 billion in the first three months of this year, a 45 per cent rise on the same period in 1999. The group also plans changes to its board, and will say farewell to president, Rainer Gut.

by Tom O'Brien

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