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Vontobel axes top names over e-banking failure

Jörg Fischer has been sacked as chairman of Vontobel's board


The private Zurich banking group, Vontobel, has sacked three of its senior officials following the failure of its planned e-business, y-o-u bank. The news sent Vontobel shares tumbling by almost 17 per cent on Thursday to SFr2,635 ($1,550).

Vontobel said in a statement on Thursday that those dismissed were chairman of the board, Jörg Fischer, chief financial officer of the Vontobel group, Walter Kaeser, and Hans-Peter Bachmann, head of Bank Vontobel's corporate finance department.

Vontobel has now cut its previously announced net profit for the year 2000 by SFr100 million ($59 million).

The group, which specialises in private banking and asset management, had already spent SFr151 million on the project before it was scrapped last month.

The bank said Fischer and Kaeser had neglected their managerial and supervisory responsibilities, while Bachmann had not fulfilled his obligations as a member of the board of y-o-u.

In addition to the dismissals, auditors have been called in to investigate "irregularities" in the bank's corporate finance department. Vontobel said they would establish if there was to be any further financial impact on the company.

The chairman of the board of y-o-u, Tony Reis, had offered his resignation, the statement added, but this had been turned down by the board of directors of Vontobel Holding which came to the conclusion that he bore no responsibility for the failure of y-o-u.

Reis is to retain his position as chairman of the board of y-o-u until all liquidation-related concerns have been settled.

Vontobel also said on Thursday that it planned to delay plans to float more of its shares to reduce the controlling family's stake to below 50 per cent.

It plans to pay shareholders an unchanged dividend for the year 2000 instead of raising the dividend as previously announced.

Hans-Dieter Vontobel will reassume the position of chairman of the board.

swissinfo with agencies


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