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The business week in review

Jörgen Centermann is to succeed Göran Lindahl as chief of ABB.

(Keystone / HO / ABB)

The week was marked by the resignation of one of Switzerland's best known CEOs, the abandonment of a high-profile merger and a casualty in the high-tech sector.

Goran Lindahl, head of the Swiss-Swedish technology group, ABB, said he would be stepping down at the end of the year. After four years at the helm, he said it was time to hand over to a younger man to complete the task of transforming ABB into a technology-based group. His replacement is a 48-year-old Swede, Jörgen Centermann.

The industrial group, Sulzer, abandoned plans to merge with the medical company, Sulzer Medica, after the proposal was criticised by investors. Sulzer said the markets preferred the two companies to remain pure players in their own fields.

The software company, Miracle, became the highest profile casualty yet in the high-tech sector. The company's failure will cost 320 jobs. The decision to close came as Credit Suisse First Boston refused to allocate second round financing.

Credit Suisse announced it was moving into the high-tech business by teaming up with Microsoft to provide online investment information and advice through Microsoft's portal, MSN.

In its ongoing dispute with pilots, the Basel-based regional airline, Crossair, threatened operational cuts in response to financial losses. The cutbacks could cost up to 300 jobs.

In the United States, PaineWebber shareholders approved the investment bank's takeover by Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS. The deal should be concluded next week.

The Swiss stock exchange finalised several agreements with the British-based electronic share trading company, Tradepoint Financial Networks, on creating their new "virt-x" trading platform.

It emerged that Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone are likely to enter the bidding war for a stake in Swisscom's mobile phone division.

And the Swiss franc sank to a 14-year low against the dollar, as the single European currency continued to weaken.

by Michael Hollingdale

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