This week in business
The start of the week was dominated by news that the United States group, Phillip Morris, owners of Kraft Foods, was buying the US food group, Nabisco. Switzerland's Nestlé, still the world number one in the food sector, refused to comment.
Among the other top events this week:
- Monday, the Swiss industrial sector recorded a 12 per cent increase in production over the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period last year, according to a report from the Federal Statistics Office.
- Tuesday, the planned takeover of the semiconductor equipment company, Esec, by Unaxis run into trouble. The Federal Banking Commission told Unaxis it cannot simply exercise its option to buy a majority stake in the group. Instead the Commission wants Unaxis, formerly Oerlikon-Bührle, to proceed with a public offer to the remaining shareholders.
- Tuesday, Swiss executives were the envy of their European counterparts. In the year to March the salaries of Switzerland's top managers rose on average 4.3 per cent. On average the top level of executive salaries rose to SFr243,000, up SFr2,000 on the previous year.
- Tuesday, Electricity producers and environmental groups joined forces to support greener forms of energy. They launched a new new label called Naturemade to be awarded to electricity companies producing eco-friendly power.·
- Wednesday, the international employment agency, Manpower, said in its latest report on the Swiss employment market that the Swiss economy remains in good health. Its monthly index climbed 0.8 in May to 78.0, following on from a 0.1 increase in April.
- Wednesday, the canton of Basel City showed Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche that it is confident in the company's environmental record. In the first accord of its kind in the canton, the authorities handed over more authority for routine environmental controls to the company.
- Wednesday, unions representing workers in the chemical and machinery industries called for wage increases of four per cent and shares in the companies they work for. They said the demands were justified by the excellent prospects in the two branches.
- Wednesday, it was announced that the Swiss Federal Railways faced competition from Italy in freight transportation. A private railway company in Lombardy, Ferrovie Nord, wants to transport goods between Milan and Basel after receiving a licence from the Italian transport ministry at the weekend.
- Thursday, Switzerland's biggest telecommunications operator, Swisscom, and its staff associations reached an agreement on the key values regarding the 2001-2003 social plan.
- Friday, A group of economists from banks, insurance companies and research institutes is becoming increasingly optimistic about the Swiss economy, forecasting growth of 2.96 per cent this year.
by Tom O'Brien
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