The business week in Switzerland

Novartis executives had something to smile about this week, after a difficult period for the pharmaceuticals giant, while Microsoft found itself under fire again.

This content was published on February 19, 2000 - 12:28

* Novartis executives had something to smile about this week, after a difficult period for the pharmaceuticals giant, while Microsoft found itself under fire again.

* Novartis released much better than expected yearly results with net profit up 11 per cent to SFr 6.66 billion. Turnover was up two per cent to SFr 32.5 billion. As well as publishing its results, Novartis confirmed plans to list its US receipts on the New York stock exchange later this year, sparking more speculation about a possible merger with an American partner.

* Switzerland's price regulator, Werner Marti, launched an investigation into Microsoft's pricing practices after customer complaints that some products were 40 per cent more expensive in Switzerland than in the US.

* The banking giant, UBS, announced a major reorganisation plan, designed to inject some life into its private banking arm and create a more streamlined and modern structure.

* Switzerland's chocolate lovers are eating more of the country's famous product than ever, but foreign sales were down in 1999. The profession's association, Chocosuisse, said demand had been hit by the economic crises in Asia and Eastern Europe.

* The industrial concern, Georg Fischer, won a SFr 200 million order from the German car manufacturer, Volkswagen. It is the largest ever order received from the company's automotive products division.

* The advertising company, Publigroupe, posted an eight per cent rise in sales figures to more than SFr 2.3 billion.

* The post office is to launch an integrated printing and delivery service for business customers. A pilot project will be released with an in-house client in October this year.

* Finally, the combined index for producer and import prices rose 0.2 per cent in January and was up one point eight per cent year on year.

From the SRI Business Unit, Zürich

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