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The business week in Switzerland

Mario Corti is to head up the troubled SAirGroup

(Keystone Archive)

The troubled aviation conglomerate, SAirGroup, once again stole the headlines this week with the appointment of a new chairman. Mario Corti, currently the chief financial officer of the food giant Nestlé, is to replace Eric Honegger next month.

Following the announcement, shares in the company recovered some of the ground lost in the wake of the board's mass resignation on March 9. The group is estimated to have lost as much as SFr2.5 billion ($1.5 billion) in the past year.

The country's second biggest financial institution, the Credit Suisse Group, reported brighter figures on Tuesday. It showed net profit up 11 per cent to SFr5.8 billion.

Operating profit was up 35 per cent to SFr7.2 billion with assets under management up by 19.3 per cent.

The country's largest watch-making group, Swatch, came through with results this week, too - net profit was up to a record SFr651 million, an increase of around 48 per cent on 1999.

Sales were up 17.6 per cent to SFr4.26 billion. The company said the strong performance of its luxury brands boosted the figures.

Shares in the technology group, Unaxis, fell sharply on Tuesday despite the release of results which showed a 10-fold increase in net profits.

The company, which formerly known as Oerlikon-Bührle, said much of the increase was due to divestments. In the past 12 months, it has sold off the Bally fashion outlets, the Pilatus aircraft manufacturer and the Zurich Marriot Hotel.

Analysts say the company, which now concentrates on manufacturing equipment and providing services for the semi-conductor, data storage and optical components industries, faces a more challenging year given the US economic downturn.

The private Zurich banking group, Vontobel, sacked three senior officials this week following the failure of its planned e-business, y-o-u bank.

Those dismissed were the chairman of the board, Jörg Fischer, chief financial officer, Walter Kaeser and Hans Peter Bachmann, head of the bank's corporate finance department.

Vontobel also cut its previously announced net profit for the year 2000 by SFr100 million.

In addition to the dismissals, auditors have also been called in to investigate irregularities in the bank's corporate finance department.

by Michael Hollingdale


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