Switzerland

Zurich Financial Services: second quarter profit down

Zurich Financial Services: second quarter profit down Geneva  - Zurich Financial Services reported Thursday second quarter profits of 892 million dollars, down from 1.25 billion dollars a year earlier.

Business operating profit stood at 1.5 billion dollars.

Net income for the first half was 1.3 billion dollars, a decrease of 53 per cent from the first six months of 2008.

Shareholders' equity reached 25.2 billion dollars, an increase of 14 per cent over its value at the end of last year.

Brazil maintain lead in football rankings

Brazil maintain lead in football rankingsZurich - Brazil retained their lead and there was only one change in the top 10 in the latest world football rankings issued on Wednesday by the ruling body FIFA.

Brazil returned to the top last month and have 1,642 points to rank ahead of former leaders Spain (1,590) and the Netherlands (1,379).

Germany climbed from fifth to fourth with 1,195 points at the expense of Italy (1,181) in the only top 10 change. The other top teams are Russia (1,161), England (1,135), Argentina (1,080), France (1,059) and Croatia (1,031). (dpa)

Novartis makes early shipment of seasonal flu shots to US

Novartis makes early shipment of seasonal flu shots to US Geneva - Novartis, the Swiss drug maker, has started shipping the seasonal influenza vaccine Fluvirin to the US ahead of schedule, saying Wednesday it anticipated the swine flu pandemic would increased demand for doses.

The US market will receive some 30 million doses of the Fluvirin vaccine, the company said in a statement, adding that the early delivery will allow for an expedited completion of seasonal flu vaccination campaigns.

Swiss Re reports 358-million-dollar second quarter loss

SwissGeneva - Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurance company, reported Wednesday it lost 381 million Swiss francs (358 million dollars) in the second quarter, saying it still had assets exposed to volatile markets.

The result was worse than analysts had expected, though the hedged positions at the root of the loss had been anticipated.

In the same period last year, the company made a profit of 564 million francs.

Swiss Re said earnings were offset as it took mark-to-market losses on hedges on corporate bonds, impairments on securitized products and costs as its own credit spreads improved.

World Council of Churches condemns violence in Nigeria

World Council of Churches condemns violence in NigeriaGeneva  - The World Council of Churches (WCC) on Tuesday urged Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua to "ensure the safety of all citizens" and to see that those responsible for the recent bloody violence be brought to justice.

An estimated 600-800 people are reported to have died in the clashes over several days between the military and followers of an Islamic sect in the town of Maiduguri and other northern Nigerian districts.

Fragrance maker Givaudan reports decline in sales

Fragrance maker Givaudan reports decline in salesGeneva - Givaudan, the Swiss flavours and fragrance maker, reported Tuesday 1.99 billion Swiss francs (1.88 billion dollars) in sales in the first half and it had a net income of 95 million francs.
The company, which makes fragrances for perfumes by labels like Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs and Hugo Boss, had sales of 2.09 billion francs in the same 2008 period, with net income of 94 million francs.
The fragrance division's sales reached 899 million francs in the first half, while flavours sales reached 1.01 billion francs.

UBS reports 1.32-billion-dollar quarterly loss

UBS reports 1.32-billion-dollar quarterly lossGeneva  - The Swiss banking giant UBS on Tuesday reported a second-quarter loss of 1.4 billion Swiss francs (1.32 billion dollars) as it continued to experience cash outflows from its wealth management divisions.

Switzerland's biggest bank by assets said that leading the losses were charges related to improving its own debts, restructuring costs and impairment charges on the announced sale of UBS Pactual, its Brazilian unit.

Astarloza suspended over failed dope test

Mikel AstarlozaAigle, Switzerland - Spain's Mikel Astarloza was suspended with immediate effect Thursday by cycling's ruling body UCI over a failed dope test.

The 29-year-old tested positive at a doping control on June 26 for the banned blood-booster EPO, eight days before the start of the Tour de France.

Astarloza won the 16th stage of this year's Tour and the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider now faces seeing his name removed from the race results list. There were no positive dope tests during this year's Tour. (dpa)

UN says humanitarian air service faces shutdown, again

World Food ProgrammeGeneva  - The humanitarian air service run by the United Nations could face a shutdown next month in key locations due to a lack of funds, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Emilia Casella from the World Food Programme said the service is used mainly to move humanitarian aid workers into hard-to-access areas, particularly in conflict zones, and also to fly medical supplies to where they are needed.

In many cases, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Darfur region of Sudan and Somalia, the flights are considered to be more cost effective and sometimes the only way to get aid to stranded civilians.

CAS dismisses Mutu appeal against Chelsea

Adrian Mutu Lausanne, Switzerland  - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed Friday an appeal by Romanian striker Adrian Mutu against a FIFA order that he pay former club Chelsea 17.17 million euros (24.14 million dollars) in damages for breach of contract.

Mutu was sacked by the English Premier League after testing positive for cocaine in 2004 a year after joining them from Parma and was ordered to pay the sum by football's ruling body last year.

The 30-year-old has since gone on to rebuild his career, joining Juventus in 2005 despite serving a seven-month ban for the cocaine offence before moving on to Fiorentina in 2006. (dpa)

Holcim to sell stake in Panama, Caribbean

Holcim to sell stake in Panama, Caribbean Geneva - Holcim, the giant Swiss cement and aggregate group, announced Friday it was selling holdings in Panama and the Caribbean to Argos for 157 million dollars, following the nationalization of its assets in Venezuela.

Argos, a large Colombian company, has been a joint venture partner of the Swiss producer for an extended period.

Red Cross: Zimbabwe prone to new cholera epidemic

Red Cross: Zimbabwe prone to new cholera epidemicGeneva - Zimbabwe will likely face another cholera epidemic come the rainy season, a Red Cross official warned Thursday, noting that no improvements have been made to the country's dilapidated water and sanitation systems.

The official was commenting after the Ministry of Health in Harare announced that a cholera outbreak, which was ongoing since the rainy seasons in late 2008, had ended.

Swiss, US negotiating on UBS as bribe details emerge

Swiss, US negotiating on UBS as bribe details emergeGeneva - The United States and Switzerland have failed so far in finding a solution to the court case against UBS AG on cautiously-held client data, officials close to the proceedings said Wednesday.

Their comments come as new details emerged separately that a Swiss official was allegedly bribed to prevent the transfer of his data from the Zurich-based UBS to the US authorities.

Moroccan illegal migrants allege abuse in Italy

Moroccan illegal migrants allege abuse in ItalyGeneva  - Seasonal workers in Italy, most of them from Morocco, allege they are being exploited by their employers and forced to live in unsafe conditions, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported Tuesday.

Based on assessment in San Nicola Varco, south of Naples, of about 1,000 such migrant workers, the IOM found they had "taken over abandoned structures, eking out a living amid piles of rubbish, without running water or electricity."

CAS confirm Pechstein appeal over doping ban

CAS confirm Pechstein appeal over doping ban Lausanne, Switzerland - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) confirmed Monday that five-time Olympic speed skating champion Claudia Pechstein and the German Speed Skating Association (DESG) have both filed appeals against her doping ban.

The International Skating Union (ISU) announced on July 3 that it had banned Pechstein for two years until February 2011 for blood doping due to abnormal blood values and abnormal changes of the values in various tests, most notably at the February 7/8 worlds in Norway.

Green oversight for festival lets music flower

Green oversight for festival lets music flowerNyon, Switzerland  - Concert organizer Brian Little was in Switzerland on a mission: his forthcoming music festival in South Africa aims to be carbon neutral, with a strong "leave no trace" approach, and he was touring the Alpine scene to get an education.

Sitting backstage at the Paleo Festival near Nyon, just north of Geneva this week, he was impressed. Paleo, which claims to be the second-largest outdoor music festival in Europe, has been voted one of the continent's greenest by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Federer's wife Mirka gives birth to twins

Federer's wife Mirka gives birth to twinsZurich  - World number one and 15-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer is the father of twin girls after his wife Mirka Vavrinec gave birth in Switzerland on Thursday.

The girls have been named Charlene Riva and Myla Rose.

"This is the greatest day of our lives," Federer said on his website.

"Mirka, Myla and Charlene are all healthy and doing very well."

Nine central banks join international payment and settlement system

Nine central banks join international payment and settlement systemGeneva - Nine central banks have joined the Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems to raise its numbers to 23 members, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) announced Friday.

The grouping is a forum to monitor and analyse developments in domestic payment, clearing and settlement systems as well as in cross-border and multi-currency settlement schemes, according to the Basel, Switzerland-based BIS, which hosts the committee secretariat.

Syngenta's profits fall in first half, hit by currency swings

Geneva - Syngenta's profits fall in first half the Swiss agrochemicals company, on Friday attributed a 9-per-cent drop in profits for the first half of 2009 to unfavourable currency exchange rates

Compared to the same period in 2008, the company's net income fell from 1.51 billion dollars to 1.38 billion.

Sales reached 6.65 billion dollars, a 2-per-cent increase in currency-adjusted terms, but a 9-per-cent drop when converted into dollars, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said.

Richemont completes share buy-back programme

group RichemontGeneva  - The Swiss luxury goods group Richemont announced Friday that it had completed its extended programme to buy back 15.4 million 'A' shares in the company.

The acquired preferred stocks would be held to hedge awards to executives under Richemont's stock option plan, the group said in a statement.

Richemont reported that it currently holds 24.1 million "A" shares, representing 4.20 per cent of its capital and 2.31 per cent of its voting rights. It also maintains options to acquire a further 13.6 million preferred shares.




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