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SWI swissinfo.ch – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, swissinfo.ch has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.

Articles by Swissinfo

Two out of three Swiss resorts raise ski-pass prices

8 days ago

Skiers in Zermatt will be forking out 5% more for day passes compared to last winter. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Some ski lift companies are charging up to 15% more for passes this winter as high energy prices bite, a survey by CH Media shows.
Out of 16 destinations surveyed, roughly two out of three will be charging more for ski passes than last winter, the newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende reported. The resorts that have hiked their prices the most are in the Lower Engadine, eastern Switzerland. In Scuol, for example, the increase is most marked for day passes.

Differences are more difficult to track among ski resorts that rely on a dynamic-price system, where prices fluctuate based on demand. The exception is Zermatt, which is raising its price for a

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Global goods inspector SGS to shed 1,500 jobs

11 days ago

SGS was founded in 1878 to help standardise the trade of goods around the world. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

The world’s largest goods inspection and testing group SGS will shed 1,500 jobs worldwide in a cost saving drive.
The Geneva-based company said on Wednesday that inflation and the Ukraine war are having a negative effect on its business.
“The consequences of the war in Ukraine have had a broader effect on our business mix and volumes in certain European end markets, impacting margins,” SGS stated.
The group has therefore resolved to bring in measures to save CHF50 million ($53 million) annual costs from 2023. These include slashing posts and relocating some of its operations to different parts of the world.
SGS employs some 96,000 staff in more than

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Government firms up plans in case of gas outage

12 days ago

Dialling back: households would be called on to reduce the heat, if necessary. © Keystone / Martial Trezzini

In case of a shortage, households and businesses which heat with piped gas would be asked to lower temperatures to 20°C, the government has said.
The contingency scenario agreed by ministers is a slightly modified version of a four-stage plan announced in August, which has since gone through a consultation process involving cantonal authorities and other stakeholders.
In the initial plan, for example, the temperature limit was planned at 19°C, and the contribution to be made by private households was less marked.
On Wednesday the government said that without the contribution of households, which account for some 40% of gas used in the country, reducing

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Swiss health office and pharma firm at odds over flu spray

15 days ago

A few days in bed might also help to recover from flu. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi

The Swiss health authorities and the manufacturer AstraZeneca are at loggerheads over a nasal spray to vaccinate children and adolescents against influenza.
The British-Swedish manufacturer told the Swiss Keystone-SDA agency that it had been asked by the Federal Office of Public Health to introduce its product in Switzerland two years ago.
However, the health office had later set unacceptable financial conditions, a company spokesman said.
For its part, the health office told Keystone-SDA that AstraZeneca is asking for remuneration at more than twice the price of comparable products.
Therefore no agreement has been reached so far to distribute the vaccine and the marketing

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Leading economist mildly upbeat about Swiss growth prospects

16 days ago

The role of energy supply is crucial for economic growth in Switzerland according to KOF director Jan-Egbert Sturm. Keystone / Arno Balzarini

Economic researcher Jan-Egbert Sturm expects the Swiss economy to stagnate in the next few months.
The director of the Swiss Economic Institute (KOF) at Federal Institute ETH Zurich, said Switzerland had been been quite resilient in the current economic environment.
“Resilience is based on stable political institutions, a healthy society and a thriving economy,” he told the SonntagsBlick newspaper.
He said Switzerland was able to combine all these factors.
“We produce mainly goods in the luxury segment, high-quality niche products. The quality of service is right. In addition, we are reliable partners,” he is quoted as

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Vivid pink diamond auctioned for CHF28.4 million

19 days ago

Christie’s said an unidentified Asian buyer snapped up the diamond. © Keystone / Martial Trezzini

A pear-shaped 18-carat pink diamond billed as a rarity has sold at a Geneva auction for CHF28.4 million ($28.8 million), including fees and taxes.
The “Fortune Pink” fancy vivid pink stone, said to be the largest of its kind and shape to go on the block, headlined Christie’s latest Geneva sale of jewellery. It had been expected to fetch between $25 million and $35 million.
The auction house said an unidentified Asian buyer snapped up the diamond on Tuesday.
Max Fawcett, head of Christie’s jewellery department in Geneva, said the stone with a strong, saturated pink colour was mined in Brazil more than 15 years ago. He declined to identify its owner, but described

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Switzerland should do more on tax avoidance, says EU parliamentarian

22 days ago

Switzerland has made progress in reforming tax rates for multinational companies but still has work to do when it comes to turning a blind eye to tax avoidance.
In an interview in the French-language paper Le Temps, Paul Tang, who led a delegation of European parliamentarians visiting Bern last week, said that Switzerland had made more progress than the European Union when it came to bringing tax rates for multinational companies in line with other countries.
Last year, Switzerland joined more than 130 countries in agreeing to a minimum corporate tax rate of 15% under an initiative by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Swiss public is expected to vote on the respective new tax in 2023.
“The support of Switzerland, where so many

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Court increases fines against Swiss art collector

26 days ago

Schwarzenbach (left) leaving a court building back in 2017. © Keystone / Walter Bieri

A court in Zurich has rejected an appeal by the renowned Swiss art collector and financier Urs Schwarzenbach in two cases of tax evasion in connection with the import of works of art.
The court also decided to increase from CHF8.5 million ($8.5 million) to 9.6 million the fines compared with a previous court verdict, it was announced on Monday.
Judges also massively increased the fines against Schwarzenbach’s lawyer.
It is the latest stage in legal proceedings which began about eight years ago, against the billionaire financier and five-star Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich.
The Zurich appeals court had to review the two cases and set the amount of the fines following a decision

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Credit Suisse to cut 540 jobs in Switzerland by 2023

28 days ago

The embattled Swiss bank Credit Suisse plans to shed 540 jobs in Switzerland by the end of the year, Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Körner told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper. In the interview he gave more details on last week’s restructuring announcement.

“We will cut 2,700 jobs worldwide, including 20% in Switzerland, by the end of the fourth quarter of 2022,” Körner told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper on October 30.
On Thursday the bank unveiled major restructuring plans in an effort to recover from a run of heavy losses. It announced that it would cut a total of 9,000 jobs worldwide by the end of 2025 – including 2,000 in Switzerland – selling off parts of its business and raising billions in extra capital in a bid to reverse a downward spiral in fortunes.

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The energy crisis is about to make your Swiss ski holiday more expensive

29 days ago

Swiss hotels and holiday apartments are raising their prices by around 5% this winter, largely due to higher energy prices. Ski passes are also likely to go up by a similar amount, a newspaper reports.
According to a survey by the Hotelleriesuisse association, seen by NZZ am Sonntag, most Swiss hotels are planning to pass on the higher costs of electricity, gas and oil to their guests.
Three-quarters of all hotels expect to raise prices this winter compared to the previous year, the survey showed. On average, a Swiss hotel room will be 5% more expensive. But one in ten hotels that took part in the survey wants to increase prices by over 10%.
The main reason for the price increases are the higher energy prices but additional staff costs are also a factor. There is

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Credit Suisse turns to petrodollars to fund turnaround

October 30, 2022

Credit Suisse is banking on petrodollars from Saudi Arabia to shore up its precarious situation. Keystone / Oliver Berg

Swiss bank Credit Suisse has returned to the Middle East to shore up its finances amid mounting losses and a deteriorating balance sheet.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, built up a 5% stake in Switzerland’s second largest bank.
Now the Saudi National Bank has accepted the chance to take a 9.9% stake in Credit Suisse at a cost of CHF1.5 billion ($1.5 billion). This would make the Saudi financial institution one of the largest shareholders at Credit Suisse.
At present, US investment company Harris Associates is Credit Suisse’s largest shareholder with just over 10%.

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Swiss pandemic costs lower than feared

October 29, 2022

Switzerland’s budget faces a sizeable deficit despite fewer pandemic costs than expected. Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The coronavirus pandemic will have a lighter impact on Swiss state finances than previously feared but will still put the country’s budget in the red, the finance ministry forecasts.
Measures to support companies and workers during the pandemic were expected to cost CHF7.4 million ($7.4 billion) during the last forecast in June. But on Wednesday, the finance ministry revised the expected cost down to CHF6.1 billion.
The main reason is that fewer companies have applied for funding to cover the costs of staff on placed on shortened working hours than were expected.
The revised sum is enough to create a probable budget deficit of CHF4.1 billion for

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Credit Suisse cuts thousands of jobs to restore fortunes

October 28, 2022

Credit Suisse is attempting to recover from a catastrophic sequence of business reversals and scandals. © Keystone / Walter Bieri

Swiss bank Credit Suisse is shedding thousands of jobs, selling off parts of its business and raising billions in extra capital in a bid to reverse a downward spiral in fortunes.
The bank announced on Thursday that it will slim down from a current headcount of 52,000 to 43,000 by the end of 2025. The job cuts will start this year with an initial tranche of 2,700 posts being axed.
Credit Suisse has suffered a string of setbacks in recent years by being on the wrong end of soured business deals and courtroom battles. Management is attempting to stop the rot with a radical overhaul of the bank’s operations and strategy.
The new

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Swiss federal buildings to get solar panel makeover

October 28, 2022

Federal buildings and other infrasructure are to be installed with photovoltaic panels in the next 12 years. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The Swiss government has pledged to install solar panels on as many federal buildings as possible to help boost the production of energy from renewable sources.
On Wednesday, the government said it wants solar energy generation to rise from 13 gigawatt hours to 87 gigawatt hours in Switzerland.
To help achieve this target, it has set the goal of installing photovoltaic panels on public buildings by 2034.
The project is expected to cost in the region of CHF143.4 million ($143 million) over the next 12 years, and that’s without the cost of renovating roofs and facades to support panels.
Further photovoltaic panels are also

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Swiss municipality to vote on banning adverts in streets

October 27, 2022

Bling on the landscape? Voters in Geneva will be able to have their say on adverts like this © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The inhabitants of Vernier, a municipality in Geneva, are set to have their say on banning advertising billboards.
A referendum launched against a new law banning this form of communication has collected 2,300 signatures, the co-chairman of the referendum committee, said on Monday. A total of 1,921 valid signatures had been required.
Last month the local administrative council decided to ban billboards and other forms of street advertising, arguing that this improves the quality of the landscape.
However, the referendum committee, made up of parties on the political right, believes it is a serious infringement of the freedom of trade. The

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E-cigarette tax mooted in Switzerland

October 27, 2022

The Swiss government has proposed amending the Tobacco Act to introduce a new tax for electronic cigarettes.
Parliament has been asked to back the proposal, which is forecast to bring in around CHF13.8 million ($13.8 million) in extra tax revenues per year.
The proposed tax rate for reusable e-cigarettes is CHF0.20 per millilitere of liquid containing nicotine. For single-use e-cigarettes, the government is aiming for CHF1 per millilitre of liquid – regardless of the nicotine content.
The higher tax rate for single use e-cigarettes is intended to put off minors from trying them.
The potential attraction of e-cigarettes among youngsters concerns the Swiss authorities.
Earlier this year, a nationwide vote decided to limit advertising for all tobacco products

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Credit Suisse to settle tax probe in France

October 26, 2022

Credit Suisse is one of Switzerland’s systemically important banks. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
Credit Suisse Group and the French financial prosecution office have agreed to settle a tax fraud and money laundering case in France with a €238 million (CH234 million) payment to the state, a French court heard on Monday.
The settlement still needs to be approved by the court.
If approved, the payment would resolve the investigation led by the France’s financial prosecution office over whether the Swiss bank helped clients avoid paying taxes on their wealth.
The alleged scheme, which prosecutors say took place between 2005 and 2012, caused a fiscal damage of over €100 million euros to the French state, the prosecution office said.
Credit Suisse lawyers declined to

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Public transport will not cost more in 2023

October 25, 2022

Buying a train ticket with a bicycle will become easier; getting the bike onto the train won’t Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Ticket prices for Swiss public transport will remain stable for 2023 for the seventh consecutive year. Only “a few tourist businesses” are planning to adjust their fares for next year, says the SwissPass Alliance.
In addition, from December 11, when the new Swiss Federal Railways timetable comes into effect, there will be a customer group specific to bicycles and dogs, which will allow “simplified” ticket purchasing.
SwissPass explained it would be possible to select whether you are travelling with a bike or a dog during the purchase process, and the sales system would issue the ticket at the best price.
Only the connections that allow you to load

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Energy crisis ‘will last many years’, says economics minister

October 24, 2022

Parmelin said that before the end of March next year the risk of a shortage was very small © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Swiss Economics Minister Guy Parmelin assumes the energy crisis will last several years. It is important, he says, not only to think about the winter, but to do everything to ensure that Switzerland produces more energy – that means more renewable energies and greater efficiency.
In 2023 and 2024 Switzerland will still be dependent on oil and gas, Parmelin said in an interview on Saturday with the CH media. After that, the situation would depend on how quickly Switzerland could expand its production.
Asked whether the government had prepared too little for a crisis, Parmelin admitted that in the case of energy the risks had been

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Man convicted for fraudulently claiming massive Covid loan

October 24, 2022

Many people have struggled to make ends meet during the pandemic © Keystone / Christian Beutler

A 48-year-old businessman in Geneva has been given a two-year suspended prison sentence for making a fraudulent claim for a Covid loan that was 100 times the correct amount. He was found guilty of fraud and forgery of documents.
“You expressly deceived the authorities in connection with the coronavirus pandemic,” the judge at Geneva Criminal Court said on Friday. “Your motive, the desire for profit, is selfish.”
The court set the probation period at five years. The man admitted to the acts, according to the court, but played down his responsibility.
In spring 2020 the operator of a hairdressing salon filled in the form for credit applications so the business could

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Swiss companies ‘trapped’ in Russia

October 24, 2022

Swiss Army knives are very popular in Russia, the fifth-largest market for manufacturer Victorinox © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Leading Swiss brands have withdrawn from Russia because of the war in Ukraine. However, research by a Swiss newspaper shows that while a company can leave a country, its products often remain on shelves.
“It’s a mass exodus. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, thousands of foreign companies have left the country. Some with grand gestures, others quietly,” the NZZ am Sonntag wrote in an in-depth article.
Victorinox, for example, maker of the iconic Swiss Army Knife, publicly announced shortly after the outbreak of war that it would no longer supply products to Russia. But since the knives are very popular in Russia, it’s

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Swiss companies and towns join forces to save energy

October 23, 2022

Switzerland continues to look for ways to save on electricity and gas this winter. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Switzerland has launched an Energy Saving Alliance of companies, government, cantons, civil society and municipalities in an effort to preserve gas and electricity supplies over the winter.
The Alpine state is among many European countries facing power shortages following Russia’s decision to cut off gas supplies.
Swiss Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga and Economics Minister Guy Parmelin introduced the new alliance on Thursday.
The voluntary initiative has started with 180 organisations from the public and private sectors committing to reduce their power consumption.
Swiss Federal Railways, for example, has stated it will turn down heating on trains

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Mountaintop solar farms spark tensions in Switzerland

October 22, 2022

Building large solar parks in high-mountain regions is arguably an effective way to produce more power in winter and accelerate the energy transition. But it remains controversial in Switzerland, where environmental groups have contested planned installations.

Born in London, Simon is a multimedia journalist who has worked for www.swissinfo.ch since 2006. He speaks French, German and Spanish and focuses on science, technology and innovation issues.
More from this author
| English Department

Research shows that putting solar panels on mountaintops in the Swiss Alps could generate at least 16 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity a year, or almost half of the solar power the authorities aim to produce annually by 2050. Large mountain solar projects exist in

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Switzerland sets out power contingency plans for winter

October 21, 2022

Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga presents Switzerland’s winter power reserve plans. ©keystone/peter Schneider

The Swiss government has put forward plans to create reserve power plants aimed at shoring up the country’s energy supplies during the winter.
The proposal to create a network of reserve plants was presented on Wednesday for a period of public consultation that will end on November 23. This follows other measures, such as increasing capacity at hydropower plants, that have already been announced.
+ Switzerland “well prepared” for energy crunch
Like other European countries, Switzerland faces the prospects of power shortages during the winter, primarily due to Russia restricting gas supplies.
To alleviate the threat of blackouts, hydropower capacity

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SWISS expands capacity for summer flight schedule

October 20, 2022

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is planning to expand its flight schedule next summer to offer 85% of its pre-pandemic capacity. To this end, it is now busy recruiting flight attendants.
In the summer timetable, which runs from March 26 to October 28, 2023, SWISS will serve a total of 112 destinations from Zurich and Geneva, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
“On the intercontinental front, the emphasis will be on the destinations in North America which are in high demand, while services to Asia will also be strengthened as the region increasingly opens up,” it said.
Frequencies will also be raised to and from some of Europe’s key centres, and for the first summer ever Zurich will be connected with British city Bristol. SWISS’s Geneva-based network will see

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Credit Suisse prepares Swiss business sales to raise capital

October 20, 2022

Credit Suisse is preparing to sell parts of its Swiss domestic bank as it attempts to close a capital hole of around CHF4.5 billion, according to people briefed on the discussions.
With less than two weeks until the lender is due to present plans for a radical strategic revamp, executives are also in the final stages of plotting a heavy round of job cuts, which could affect up to 6,000 of the group’s 50,000 global employees.
Ulrich Körner was installed as Credit Suisse chief executive over the summer with a mandate to strip back the beleaguered Swiss lender’s accident-prone investment bank and find CHF1.5 billion of cost savings, following a succession of scandals in recent years that has seen the group’s share price hit record lows.
Though most attention so far

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Credit Suisse pays $495 million to settle legacy case

October 19, 2022

The Swiss bank said it had reached a final settlement with the New Jersey Attorney General © Keystone / Michael Buholzer

Credit Suisse has agreed to pay $495 million (CHF496 million) to settle a case brought against it in the United States, the latest pay-out related to past blunders that have battered the Swiss bank’s reputation.
Credit Suisse said it would make the pay-out to settle claims brought by the New Jersey Attorney General related to the bank’s residential mortgage-backed security (RMBS) business before 2008.
The attorney general’s office alleged that Credit Suisse had “misled investors and engaged in fraud or deceit in connection with the offer and sale of RMBS”.
“Credit Suisse is pleased to have reached an agreement that allows the bank to resolve

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Geneva taxi drivers strike in protest of Uber

October 19, 2022

Uber’s activities in Switzerland have sparked legal disputes. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Dozens of taxi drivers staged a strike in Geneva to protest a decision by the authorities to allow the ride-hailing company to resume business in the Swiss city.
The strike follows months of dispute and failed negotiations over the conditions of Uber drivers and the legal status of the American company.
On Friday, the Geneva authorities decided to suspend a ban on Uber activities after it agreed to a new ‘dual’ model that gives drivers the choice of remaining independent or becoming employees of a daughter company.
Critics have argued that Uber is sidestepping a court ruling that forces the company to treat drivers as employees.
Negotiations to resolve backdated claims

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‘On boards of directors diversity is essential’

October 17, 2022

Cornelia Ritz Bossicard leads swissVR, an independent Swiss association of board members. She explains the role that boards of directors and their members play in steering businesses.
A director of the board for several companies, Bossicard became president of swissVR in 2018.
The aim of swissVR is to strengthen the skills of Swiss boards by offering a forum for sharing experiences, organising company visits, publishing surveys and reports, and providing training together with several partner organisations.
Switzerland has more than 100,000 public companies, ranging from large multinationals listed on the stock exchange to small and medium-sized entreprises (SMEs).
SWI swissinfo.ch: What are the main tasks that board members have?
Cornelia Ritz Bossicard:

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Swiss want more transparency in fight against money laundering

October 15, 2022

Switzerland has been criticised for turning a blind eye to legal advisors and others who allow wealthy people to hide their money. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The Swiss government has asked the finance ministry to draft a bill to increase transparency of beneficial owners of legal entities to help tackle financial crime.
The bill should introduce a central register for identifying beneficial owners and new obligations when it comes to risks of financial crime, the government said in a statement on Wednesday. The register will be accessible to relevant authorities but not publicly available.
“The Federal Council places great emphasis on combating financial crime and this bill is a further step towards reinforcing the Swiss mechanisms in this regard,” it said.

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