The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, has defended the government's plan to set up a post bank. He was speaking at a conference in Interlaken to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the Raiffeisen banking group.This content was published on June 17, 2000 - 16:11
Villiger said he understood the concerns of banks faced with the prospect of a new competitor, but that the government had been forced to respond to the massive structural reforms in the postal sector. He conceded that the changes were less visible than in the telecommunications sector, but said they were nonetheless present.
The finance minister said that essential postal services had to be guaranteed, but that the state could no longer bear the burden of financing the lumbering yellow giant. He said the only solution was the creation of new activities, such as the post bank.
Villiger insisted that there was no link between a future post bank and the planned sale of government shares in Swisscom. He said it was the government's job to ensure the Post Office had the initial outlay to set up a bank, whether or not this came from the sale of Swisscom shares.
Meanwhile, the communications minister, Moritz Leuenberger, says it cannot be ruled out that foreign investors may eventually gain a majority stake in Swisscom. Leuenberger's comments came in an interview published in the Bund newspaper.
Citing the Swiss-Swedish merger that created the ABB engineering group, Leuenberger underlined that other Swiss corporations had fallen into foreign hands without losing their importance for the Swiss market.
swissinfo with agencies
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