Switzerland

Germany's BASF bids 3.8 billion euros for Swiss Ciba

Berlin -Germany's BASF bids 3.8 billion euros for Swiss Ciba German chemicals concern BASF, the world's largest company in the sector, made a cash offer on Monday for Swiss rival Ciba, valuing the company at 3.8 billion euros (5.4 billion dollars).

BASF Chief Executive Juergen Hambrecht said the offer of 50 euros a share, equivalent to a premium of around 30 per cent on Ciba's Friday close, was final.

The German company aims to enhance its presence in the speciality chemicals sector through the purchase.

Hambrecht said that the sector for chemicals used in paper making was in need of restructuring.

Dalai Lama cancels Swiss visit for health reasons

Berne - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has cancelled a visit to Switzerland next month on the advice of doctors urging him cut back his travels and to rest, it was announced Saturday.

The 73-year-old, who recently spent several days in a Mumbai hospital being treated for exhaustion, would also be cancelling other European visits, the Swiss-based announcement quoted exile-Tibetan sources as saying from the Dalai Lama's base in Dharamsala, northern India. (dpa)

"Secret of the universe" experiment starts up at CERN

Geneva - What is described as the biggest and most expensive experiment in scientific history got under way Wednesday as scientists started up a 10 billion-dollar underground facility aimed at exploring the origin of matter.

A beam of particles was being accelerated around a massive tunnel or "ring" 27-kilometres in circumference - the so-called Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - located near Geneva on the French-Swiss border.

Physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research - known by its French acronym CERN - applauded as the initial beam was successfully turned on at the start of a series of experiments which will go on for years.

UN Human Rights Commissioner issues call for unity

Human Rights WatchGeneva - The new United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, called Monday for unity in the fight against human rights abuses.

A united front was needed towards human rights, Pillay said at the opening of a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Pillay, a South African judge who took over as UN Commissioner from Canadian Louise Arbour on September 1, stressed the need to make more countries aware of abiding by human rights.

Her vision, she said, was of a world in which every man, woman and child, could live without the fear of hunger and enjoy protection from violence and discrimination.

Large Hadron Collider may discover new dimensions

LHCWashington, September 4 : The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which goes into operation on September 10, might lead to the discovery of new dimensions.

Located on the border of France and Switzerland, the LHC is the world’s largest particle accelerator complex.

According to Professor Etzion, an experimental physicist in high-energy research, ”It is hard to grasp the dimensions of the practical benefits from this project, but we’re expecting to explore the basic forces that hold the world together.”

Swiss army chief resigns amid stalking affair

Roland-NefBerne  - After a weeks-long scandal over allegations of stalking, Swiss Army chief of staf Roland Nef resigned on Wednesday.

The Swiss government's Federal Council in a statement said it has formally acknowledged Nef's resignation.

Nef, 49, had been suspended from service at the end of July after Zurich prosecutors launched punitive proceedings against him over allegations that he had stalked and sexually harrassed his ex- girlfried over an extended period. (dpa)

UBS unveils quarterly loss, management shakeout

Zurich  - Shares in Swiss banking giant UBS AG fell Tuesday after the embattled financial house announced plans for a shakeout in its top management in the wake of another quarterly loss.

Zurich-based UBS, which has emerged as one of the prominent victims of the US mortgage meltdown, said it chalked up a loss of 358 million Swiss francs (330 million dollars) in the three months to the end of June.

The second-quarter loss was the group's fourth consecutive quarterly loss and compared to a 11.5-billion-franc loss in the first quarter this year. UBS reported a
5.5-billion-franc profit in the second quarter last year.

Swiss president hopes Marcos' victims to get compensation soon

Manila  - Switzerland's President Pascal Couchepin on Monday expressed hope that the Philippine Congress would soon pass a law compensating nearly 10,000 victims of human rights abuses under the dictatorship of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Couchepin, who was in Manila for a two-day state visit, conveyed to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "the firm expectation of the Swiss government that the Philippine Congress may soon enact the Human Rights Compensation bill," a government statement said.

The statement noted that Arroyo "assured Couchepin that her administration attaches great importance to the speedy passage of the law so that human rights victims may be justly compensated."

Credit Suisse returns to the black in second quarter

ZurichCredit Suisse - Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse said Thursday it returned to the black in the second quarter of 2008, with net earnings of 1.2 billion francs (1.16 billion dollars).

The figure was 62 per cent below the second-quarter 2007 result, but an improvement after the bank had lost 2.15 billion francs in the first quarter this year reflecting the turbulence in the subprime mortgage sector.

Credit Suisse said that in the second quarter all three of its divisions - private banking, investment banking and wealth management - operated at a profit.

Swiss-Libyan diplomatic spat over arrest of Gaddafi son

Berne - Switzerland has advised its citizens not to visit Libya because of a row triggered by the temporary arrest of Moammer Gaddafi's son, officials said Wednesday.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry voiced concern at what it described as "alarming" retaliatory measures introduced by the Libyan leader in the wake of his son Hannibal's detention in Geneva a week ago.

Since last Thursday Gaddafi's government has detained Swiss citizens in Libya, demanded the closure of Swiss firms present in the country and recalled its diplomatic representatives to Switzerland, the ministry said.

Decisive ministers' meeting on WTO's Doha round starts in Geneva

Geneva - Decisive ministers' meeting on WTO's Doha round starts in GenevaRepresentatives of World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries began a key meeting in Geneva Monday in an attempt to revive the stalled Doha Round of talks on liberalizing world trade that began seven years ago. 

The talks are centred on resolving an impasse over barriers to trade in industrial and agricultural goods on world markets by the end of the week. 

One aim is to open markets for agricultural goods from the world's poorest countries. 

Mountain railways in Italy, Switzerland, get world nod

Alpine railwaysWashington/Quebec City - A stretch of Alpine railways that connect Thusis in Switzerland via St Moritz to Tirano in Italy were added to the list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO.

The 128-kilometre rail designation includes the Albula line and the Bernina pass lines operated by Switzerland's Rhaetian Railway. The lines pass through Alpine mountain towns and landscape and through the language divides of German, Romansh and Italian cultures.

Swiss designer Wettstein dead at 50

Zurich - Swiss interior designer Hannes Wettstein has died at age 50, friends of the family confirmed Sunday following a newspaper report. 

Wettstein's work included the interiors of the luxurious Grand Hyatt in Berlin and the Swiss embassy in Washington. 

He designed furniture, tables, lamps and other furnishings. 

Born in 1958 in Ascona, Switzerland, Wettstein founded his own firm in 1982 and went on to collect numerous design prizes. He also taught, both at the Zurich art college ETH and from 1994-2001 at a design school in Karlsruhe, Germany. (dpa)

Swiss Mindset to build super lightweight eco-car in 2009

Lucerne, Switzerland - The Swiss Mindset AG company has announced that it is planning to produce its super lightweight eco- car fitted with hybrid drive, two gull-wing doors and narrow 22-inch wheels by 2009.

Designed by Volkswagen's former design director, Murat Gunak, who was appointed Mindset CEO, the prototype features design aspects from the hatchback and coupe with a long bonnet and rectangular rear with glass roof.

The round headlights are similar to the sports car design of the 1950s and 1960s.

Mindset, a company set up by Spirt Avert AG, is engaged in the development of a so-called "alternative automobile concept" at a time of rising oil prices and widespread measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Europe.

Why deadly Dutch left France gasping By Barry Whelan

Netherlands coach Marco van Basten can bask in the glory of two famous victories over the two 2006 World Cup finalists, knowing at least one of them and possibly both will be heading home from Euro 2008 in a few days.

Van Basten, aiming to become the first person to win Euro titles as a player and a coach, was rewarded for his boldness in the 4-1 defeat of France on Friday night just as he got the tactics right in the 3-0 drubbing or world champions Italy on Monday.

The 43-year-old coach was fortunate in both games in that the Dutch scored at the right times, but seven goals can't just be luck, and now the Dutch are riding on a huge wave of confidence.

Al-Qaeda "planning Euro 2008 attack"

Fribourg, Switzerland  - Calls by Al-Qaeda extremists to attack Switzerland and Austria during Euro 2008 are being taken seriously by authorities, a senior Swiss security official said.

Messages on "sos minbar" and "As-Sahab", two internet sites favoured by the terrorist group and calling for attacks on the two host nations, had multiplied in recent weeks, the official was quoted as saying by La Liberte daily published Thursday.

"We are taking these threats seriously," he said.

Riots in Swiss cities during May Day marches

switzerland flagZurich/Lausanne, Switzerland - Police and anti-capitalist protestors clashed in Zurich and Lausanne Thursday after thousands of marchers took to the streets across Swiss cities in traditional May Day demonstrations.

In Zurich, where up to 10,000 people took part, police used rubber bullets and water canons after being confronted by around 250 left-wing extremists throwing stones and bottles, according to the Swiss wire agency ATS/SDA. Around 20 people were arrested.

Police were also looking for a motorist who drove off after driving his car into the crowd injuring two people.

Albert Hofmann, discoverer of the psychedelic drug LSD, dies at 102

Basel, Switzerland  - Swiss scientist, Albert Hofmann, who discovered the mind-bending drug LSD that paved the way for the 1960s acid culture, has died, it was announced Wednesday. He was 102.

The Albert Hofmann Foundation said he passed away Tuesday morning at his home in Burg near Basel, where he had been looked after by two care assistants.

His death comes just as interest in the drug, banned and pushed underground for more than 40 years, was being revived.

A spokesman for the foundation said: "Dr Hofmann's discoveries have touched countless people and brought tremendous change to the world in more ways than can be counted."

Infiniti extends model range in Europe with FX37

Geneva  - The luxury brand Infiniti is extending its model range in Europe with the downsized V6 FX37 that will be on sale from October together with the G37 limousine, G37 coupe and the FX50 that was unveiled in Geneva.

In combining typical SUV features with sports car characteristics, the FX37 comes with a 320 hp motor and 360Nm of torque. It includes a seven-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifts to further drive home the sporting nature.

Tax evasion, bank secrecy themes as Merkel visits Switzerland

Berlin  - German Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to raise the contentious issue of tax evasion and Swiss bank secrecy when she visits Berne this week, the official government spokesman said Monday.

Merkel would discuss a range of bilateral, European and international issues in meetings Tuesday with President Pascal Couchepin, Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger, Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz and Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, the spokesman said.

In answer to a journalist's question regarding tax evasion by German residents and Swiss bank secrecy, Ulrich Wilhelm said he "assumed" that these issues would come up.




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