Switzerland

Nestle boosts profits by 70 per cent in 2008

Nestle boosts profits by 70 per cent in 2008 Vevey, Switzerland  - Nestle boosted its net profit by 69.4 per cent in 2008, the company said Thursday, giving it gains of 18 billion Swiss francs (15.3 billion dollars).

The group's core business, its food and beverages section, produced sales of 102.4 billion francs and was the main contributor to growth.

Sales for the company rose 2.2 per cent to 109.9 billion francs, while its organic growth was 8.3 per cent.

Swiss UBS to pay 780 million dollars to avoid US prosecution

Swiss UBS to pay 780 million dollars to avoid US prosecutionGeneva/Washington  - The largest Swiss bank, UBS AG, will pay 780 million dollars in fines to avoid prosecution and settle claims of conspiring to help thousands of wealthy US citizens use Swiss bank accounts to evade taxes, the US Justice Department said Wednesday.

Report: Swiss UBS to give US names of 250 clients

Report: Swiss UBS to give US names of 250 clients Geneva  - The largest Swiss bank, UBS, will hand over the names of 250 of its clients to the United States Justice Department, a Geneva-based newspaper reported, in a move that goes against the Alpine country's longstanding bank secrecy principles.

Without naming its source, Le Temps said the bank would divulge the information as part of an ongoing investigation against UBS in the US alleging that it helped clients there evade paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes since the beginning of the decade.

Police investigate Brazilian who claimed racist attack

Zurich - A Brazilian woman who claimed she was attacked in Zurich by racists is herself being investigated, the Swiss police said Wednesday, on suspicion of misleading the authorities about the incident.

The 26-year-old had alleged that she was attacked at a train station by three neo-Nazis, who cut her body and caused her to miscarry twins.

Pictures of the woman that circulated after the incident showed the wounds, which included an etching of the letters SVP, the initials in German of the right-wing Swiss People's Party, into her legs.

Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim had said the case appeared to have been sparked by xenophobia.

IOC agrees European broadcast rights for 2014 and 2016 Olympics

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Switzerland - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Wednesday that it has agreed a deal with SPORTFIVE for the Olympic broadcast rights for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games (2014) in Sochi and the 2016 Winter Games.

Under the agreement, SPORTFIVE has acquired the rights across all media platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription television, internet and mobile phone, across 40 countries in Europe.

France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom are excluded from the deal.

Federer out of Dubai, Davis Cup with back injury

Federer out of Dubai, Davis Cup with back injury Geneva - Roger Federer has withdrawn from next week's Barclays Championships as well as the March 6-8 Davis Cup tie against the US with a lingering back injury.

"I'm disappointed to announce that I am withdrawing from both Dubai and the Davis Cup tie in the United States," the world number two said on his website.

"This was a hard decision to make as I am missing not only one of my favorite events on tour in Dubai but I am also missing out on an opportunity to help my country try and move on to the next round of Davis Cup."

Maybach Zeppelin tops premium luxury range

Geneva  - Daimler's luxury Maybach brand is launching an even more luxurious version at the Geneva Motor Show next month with a shoulder-line in contrasting colour and a more powerful 640 hp engine.

Wind noise has been reduced by modified exterior mirrors with a more "expressive" look.

The stylish elegance is accentuated by an exclusive Californian- beige, leather interior and the "Maybach Zeppelin" lettering found on the boot lid, front grille, the key and champagne glass. Only 100 of the limited edition Maybach 57 Zeppelin and Maybach 62 Zeppelin will be built at a price of 483,140 euros (623,758 dollars) and 563,108 euros respectively.

Geneva talks resume on Russia-Georgia conflict

Russia-Georgia FlagGeneva - Delegates from eight parties started the newest round of talks Tuesday on last year's conflict between Russia and Georgia, though negotiations have so far yielded little results.

The talks at the United Nations' Geneva office will focus on humanitarian and security issues, including a mechanism to prevent and resolve future armed incidents near or within the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

While the parties have agreed to the mechanism in principle, they were still debating the details of how it would function.

Givaudan says it cut costs and boosted profits in 2008

Geneva - The world's largest maker of fragrances and flavours, Givaudan, said Tuesday it consolidated its business operations in 2008 and turned a profit of 111 million Swiss francs (95 million dollars).

The company said in a statement that this was a rise of nearly 20 per cent over 2007, when it made 93 million francs.

Overall, though, sales for the Swiss company fell by 1.1 per cent when calculated in francs, reaching just over 4 billion.

The rise in the price of raw materials in early 2008 cut into the company's gross profit margin and it said the subsequent decrease in supply costs, which began towards the end of the year, would only be felt later in 2009.

UN refugee agency offers to help future EU asylum office

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)Geneva - The United Nation's refugee agency (UNHCR) offered Tuesday to support the European Commission in its proposition for establishing a European Asylum Support Office.

The executive wing of the EU will publish a proposal for such an office on Wednesday, in an attempt to help develop a more standardized refugee policy among member states.

Asylum seekers from countries like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan are treated very differently by EU members, Ron Redmond, a UNHCR spokesman, said.

Schindler reports largest profit in company histor

Elevator and escalator Switzerland - Elevator and escalator manufacturer Schindler announced Tuesday that it had a record year in 2008, making a net profit of 634 million Swiss francs (541 million dollars), more than double the previous year's figure.

The earnings - up from 278 million francs net profit in 2007 - cam on turnover of 14 billion francs, Schindler said.

The company said its main elevators and escalators business increased operating profit by 11.6 per cent to 895 million francs. The value of new orders rose by 2.6 per cent to 9.25 billion francs.

Credit Suisse fined over 400 million dollars for unauthorized deals

Credit Suisse fined over 400 million dollars for unauthorized dealsGeneva  - A Geneva-based semiconductor company said Monday it won a ruling by a US body ordering Credit Suisse to pay damages worth about 406 million dollars for unauthorized investments.

STMicroelectronics filed arbitration against the bank last winter, on the grounds that Credit Suisse bought auction rate securities, including collateralized debt obligations, "instead of the federally guaranteed student loan securities that had been specifically mandated by the company for purchase."

Credit Suisse fined over 400 million dollars for unauthorized deals

Credit Suisse LogoGeneva - A Geneva-based semiconductor company said Monday it won a ruling by a US body ordering Credit Suisse to pay damages worth about 406 million dollars for unauthorized investments.

STMicroelectronics filed arbitration against the bank last winter, on the grounds that Credit Suisse bought auction rate securities, including collateralized debt obligations, "instead of the federally guaranteed student loan securities that had been specifically mandated by the company for purchase."

Swedish wrestler will not get bronze medal back

Switzerland - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday said that a Swedish wrestler would not get back a medal he won last year at the Beijing Olympics.

Ara Abrahamian, who won a bronze medal in the middleweight Greco- Roman wrestling competition in Beijing, caused a scandal at the victory ceremony when he took off his medal and placed it on the floor and walked away from the ceremony, which was still in progress.

The Swede, who won a silver medal in Athens in 2004, claimed he had been cheated in his semi-final loss against Andrea Minguzzi.

CAS extends ban on Maltese players

Switzerland - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday announced that they had extended the bans on two Maltese football players.

Ryan Grech, Malta international Claude Mattocks and Gilbert Martin tested positive for various prohibited substances and were banned for nine months, four months and a year respectively.

Football's controlling body FIFA, as well as the world anti-doping agency WADA appealed to CAS and asked for the bans to be extended to two years.

CAS said in a statement on Monday that they had partially upheld the appeal.

UN warns Iraq public sector employment unsustainable

IraqGeneva - Nearly 60 per cent of all full-time employees in Iraq work for the government, a UN report said, warning that this level of public sector employment was "unsustainable."

Growing unemployment in Iraq officially stood at about 18 percent, but was 10 per cent higher among men under the age of 30. Additionally, less than 1 in 5 women participated in the labour force.

"Iraq's growing jobless population is a socio-economic challenge for a country in transition," the UN report said. "This unemployed or disenchanted pool of young men and women is critical to Iraq's future socio-economic health."

Doubts arise about Brazilian's claim of racist attack in Zurich

Zurich - The mystery of a Brazilian woman who claimed she was attacked by three skinheads in Zurich earlier this week deepened Friday as new details emerged that cast some doubts on her story.

Police responded to a train station in the major Swiss city on Monday after reports that a pregnant woman was attacked with a knife during a racially motivated crime. The
26-year-old Brazilian, who said she was three months pregnant at the time of the attack, said she went into a bathroom afterward and miscarried.

However, the Institute of Forensic Medicine determined Friday that she was not pregnant at the time of the attack. Police also said the wounds on her body could have been self-inflicted.

Tamil man sets himself ablaze outside UN

Tamil man sets himself ablaze outside UNGeneva  - A man of Tamil origin committed suicide outside the United Nations' Geneva office by setting himself on fire, UN officials confirmed Friday.

The incident took place the night before, they said. In terms of security, they felt it imposed no threat on the UN as it occurred outside the building.

Last week, thousands of Tamils gathered outside the UN to protest the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka and asking the world body for humanitarian assistance.

Several hundred people congregated late Friday on the spot where the man burned himself. (dpa)

Charles Aznavour to be Armenian envoy to Switzerland

Charles AznavourGeneva - Charles Aznavour, the ageing French singer, will take up a new role as the Armenian ambassador to Switzerland, media reports said Friday.

Aznavour made the announcement on Armenian TV, saying he was honoured to have been given the position.

The Armenian diplomatic mission in Geneva could not confirm the appointment.

UN rights council to hold special session on financial crisis

United Nations LogoGeneva - The United Nations' Human Rights Council announced Friday will hold a special session next week to address the financial crisis.

Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, the Nigerian ambassador to the UN in Geneva and the president of the HRC, said the special session would focus on the protection of human rights in difficult economic times, particularly defending the most vulnerable.




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