The decision by the Basel-based healthcare group, Roche, to axe 3,000 jobs worldwide from its pharmaceuticals division dominated the business news this week.
The cuts will mainly affect operations at Nutley in the United States where 900 jobs are to go. Another 600 are to be cut in Basel, where chemical production is also to be reduced. Other Roche sites where jobs will go are in the Californian city of Palo Alto (200 jobs) and the British town of Welwyn (700).
Roche says the measures are designed to increase margins to between 20 and 25 per cent by 2004, better than today but still below the industry average.
Swissair Group had some promising news on Friday, when the British consulting group, AITI, confirmed that it had put forward a bid of some FFr3 billion (SFr700 million) for the Swiss firm's loss-making French airline company, AOM/Air Liberté.
AITI said on Friday that it had sent an initial letter of interest to AOM/Air Liberté chief executive Marc Rochet on April 18. It added that the offer was being made on its own behalf and not for a third party.
AOM/Air Liberté is owned jointly by Swissair Group and France's Marine Wendel. Both have been looking for buyers for the loss-making French airline group for months.
The medical technology company, Sulzer Medica, named a new CEO this week: Stephan Rietiker will take up his new position at the beginning of August.
Rietiker, a medical doctor by training, is currently general manager at Covance European Central Laboratory Services in Geneva and has also worked for Roche and Health and Pharma Consulting.
Sulzer Medica also set July 10 as the date for the completion of its spin off from the industrial conglomerate, Sulzer.
In other news this week, the union representing most of Switzerland's rail employees came out strongly against separating operations and infrastructure of the rail network saying the strategy had led to chaos in Britain.
The president of the Swiss Railway and Transport Association, Ernst Leuenberger, told a news conference in Bern on Monday that only an integrated rail system could guarantee an optimal service to the travelling public.
The country's biggest bank, UBS, revealed this week that it contributed to a SFr277 million ($155.9 million) loan to the bankrupt sports marketing company, the ISMM group. But the bank said it was fully covered against potential losses from its exposure, which, it says, amounts to tens of millions of francs.
On Thursday, the latest inflation data showed that the annual rate increased to 1.8 per cent in May, 0.6 per cent above April's figure and the highest yearly rate for six months.
Data released by the Federal Statistics Office showed that higher petrol prices and seasonal increases for items such as clothing and shoes were the main reasons for the increase.
Finally, Karl Schweri, the Swiss businessman and political observer, died at the age of 84. Schweri is best remembered as the man who founded the low-cost retail chain, Denner, in the 1980s.
by Michael Hollingdale
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