The launch of the new pan European stock exchange virt-x was the main item on the business agenda last week. Created through the merger of the Swiss Exchange and the British-based electronic platform, Tradepoint, the new venture aims to break the mould in cross-border trading.
The London-based virt-x, established last Monday, aims to capture 10 per cent of the European blue chip trading market within a year.
It began by offering trading in Swiss and British blue chips and will include other European blue chips from Monday. By mid-July, more than 600 companies will be traded on the platform - about 80 per cent of the continent's total market capitalisation.
Switzerland is the first country to allow its blue chips to migrate to another country and hopes the move will help the Swiss Exchange steal a march on competitors such as Euronext, the company formed through the merger of the Paris, Milan and Amsterdam bourses.
In other news this week, food giant Nestlé confirmed reports that it is interested in buying the German ice-cream producer, Schöller. The Vevey-based company said it was looking to consolidate its position as the global number two in the ice-cream sector.
At present, Nestlé ranks third in Germany in terms of ice-cream sales with about 10 per cent of the market.
The chief executive of the Sulzer Corporation in Wintherthur, Fred Kindle, said this week that he saw no reason to postpone the spin off of Sulzer Medica.
The medical division, whose stocks have fallen sharply in recent weeks, is in the throes of a costly recall of hip replacement parts and has also been beset by problems with its knee implants.
Switzerland's watchmakers are set for another record sales year with most export markets in better shape than last year. That was the message of Francois Habersaat to the Swiss Watchmaking Industry's annual meeting in Geneva.
Exports, which passed the SFr10 billion franc mark last year, will be even better despite a decline of more than five per cent to the United States.
The Swiss Business Federation issued a survey this week that forecast two per cent growth for the economy this year. The Federation said the economy's solid performance would be supported by private consumption and increased activity in the construction industry.
And finally, Switzerland is to get its first purely online trade union to promote the interests of workers in the New Economy. The union, to be called //syndikat, aims to have 10,000 members by 2003 in the computing, financial and service industries.
by Michael Hollingdale
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