Ebner's Empire

BZ Group structure

The main stages in the career of the man once called "the financier in the bow tie."

This content was published on August 5, 2002

1985: The BZ Group is born

Aged 39, Martin Ebner leaves Vontobel Bank after the family run firm refuses him a partnership. He founds the BZ group (originally called Bank Zurich). Right-wing politician and millionaire businessman Christoph Blocher, an old university friend of Ebner's, becomes one of BZ's first clients.

1991: Old friends and a new Vision

Together with Blocher, Ebner acquires the first part of his empire: the company Pharma Vision.

1992 - 1994: More Visions

The "Visions" of the BZ Group multiply. Three new investment companies are created: BK Vision, Gas Vision (now called Spezialitäten Vision) and Stillhalter Vision.

1995: A nation of shareholders

Ebner calls on the Swiss people to become a nation of shareholders. He tours the country encouraging ordinary people to invest in the stock market. Even better if they do so through BZ's Vision companies.

1995: Bank power struggle

Ebner becomes one of the main players in the discussions over a merger between Swiss bank giants, UBS and SBC. As a major SBC shareholder, he fights the proposal that the two banks should issue one unified share and is only narrowly defeated. He remains a major shareholder in the new United Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and of Credit Suisse (CS).

1999: Easy money

Ebner becomes president of Alusuisse. The experience lasts only a few months, after which Alusuisse merges with Alcan. The deal brings Ebner SFr2.3 billion.

At the end of the 1990s Ebner begins buying shares in engineering giant ABB. His shareholding power forces changes in management, but his initial investment success during the boom years of the late 90s starts to look increasingly shaky. Ebner's ABB holdings are estimated to have lost over SFr200 million.

2000: Decline sets in

As the stock market becomes less bullish, Ebner's investments lose more and more.

2002: The end of the Vision

Following a week of stock market turbulence, Ebner is forced to sell his four investment fund groups to the state guaranteed Zurich Cantonal Bank.

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