Thursday, February 24, 2005

ECONOMY: Novartis buys Eon Inc and Hexal AG

Novartis AG announced a major push into the U.S. and German generic drug markets Monday by buying Eon Labs Inc. of the United States and Hexal AG of Germany for $8.3 billion in cash. The Swiss pharmaceutical giant said integrating the two companies into its Sandoz division would create the world's largest generic drug company.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

SPORTS: Top Swiss Soccer Club Servette Goes Bust

One of Switzerland's oldest football clubs, Servette Geneva, slid into bankruptcy after potential investors pulled out of a rescue bid.

Servette said it was withdrawing its appeal against a bankruptcy order, opening the way for its immediate relegation from the top flight to Switzerland's third division.

"Servette is definitely bankrupt", the club announced on its website. They had been eighth in the ten-club Swiss Super League. Servette have won 17 Swiss league titles and seven Swiss cups in their 115--year history.

But the Geneva side's fortunes on the pitch declined in recent years as successive new owners failed to come true on their financial pledges. The final blow followed a battle involving potential Middle Eastern investors, local politicians and the French players' agent Marc Roger who bought the ailing club a year ago with promises of backing from ex-Real Madrid chairman Lorenzo Sanz.

Instead, the club accumulated 11 million Swiss francs (seven million euros, nine million dollars) of fresh debt and struggled to find results or a few thousand fans for league games in the 35,000 capacity stadium built recently for the Euro 2008 tournament.

Copyright afp

The Internet as Blabbermouth

Is the downfall of CNN's Eason Jordan after a blogger reported his off-the-record remarks a sign that the blogosphere is surpassing the mainstream media?

On, the World Economic Forum weblog, there is a link to a site called Ohmynews, "where every citizen is a reporter." Rony Abovitz is one of those citizens. The 34-year-old co-founder of Z-KAT, a medical technology company in Hollywood, Fla., had never written a story in the mainstream press when Forumblog asked him to write his first-ever blog from Davos, Switzerland. And now a story he posted online two weeks ago has claimed one of the most senior scalps in U.S. journalism, prompting praise from right-wing bloggers and sparking a debate about the power of the blogosphere over the mainstream media.

Abovitz attended an off-the-record panel in Davos on Jan. 28 addressed by, among others, CNN's chief news executive, Eason Jordan, that was filmed. During the discussion, Jordan reportedly claimed that he knew of 12 journalists in Iraq whom the U.S. military had deliberately targeted and killed. The Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, who was also on the panel, asked him if CNN had reported this. Jordan said no. Abovitz asked him if he had any objective and clear evidence to back up these claims because "if what he said was true, it would make Abu Ghraib look like a walk in the park." Jordan appeared to backtrack. The debate continued and then moved on.

By Gary Younge,

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Swiss Firms Admit to Paying Kickbacks for Iraqi Oil

GENEVA - A key investigator says oil trading firms based in Switzerland paid kickbacks to win contracts under the U-N's oil-for-food program in Iraq.
The investigator, Swiss criminal lawyer Mark Pieth, said that the total amount of bribes paid by companies around the world could be as high as two-point-five (b) billion dollars.
The man says it will be up to national authorities to carry out any legal proceedings against firms which paid illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime.
Swiss authorities have already fined one Geneva-based company for paying kickbacks under the program, which ran until 2003.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press.

Spanish Consulate in Switzerland stormed

BERN, Switzerland (AP) - Swiss special forces stormed the Spanish Consulate on Monday to end a hostage standoff - but the three men who attacked the building in an apparent robbery had fled hours earlier and managed to elude authorities, police said.
Officers hunted for three, who spoke broken French and forced their way into the consulate, demanding that the staff open the safe, said police Maj. Peter Theilkaes.
The three masked assailants seized the consulate shortly before 8 a.m. (2 a.m. EST), Monday, taking three people hostage, but apparently left the building almost immediately and before police arrived, said Theilkaes, who led the police operation.
Special forces stormed the consulate to bring an end to a standoff, but the suspects, who were armed with knives and a handgun, had left the building about six hours earlier, authorities said. No shots were fired.
``As soon as it was ascertained that no more consulate workers were in the building, the police checked the building and found it empty,'' the statement said. ``The assailants had already fled. From that, we conclude that the attack was of a criminal nature and did not have a political background.'' Neither the workers nor the police knew the intruders had left the building.

POLITICS: Rich Russian before Swiss Court?

MOSCOW - One of Russia's richest people, Roman Abramovich, might have to appear in a Swiss court to defend against claims filed by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The bank is demanding that Mr. Abramovich return a loan worth 9 million pounds (approximately $17 million). The EBRD is reported to have acquired documents indicating that Mr. Abramovich used part of the loan "inappropriately." In particular, the Russian billionaire is accused of using some of the money to buy two luxury yachts. The court documents prepared by the EBRD include a fax instructing Runicom S.A. to transfer 28,000 Swiss francs to pay for beauty treatment provided for Mr. Abramovich's wife, Irina. Russian legal experts are rather skeptical about the EBRD's chances of suing Mr. Abramovich successfully.

New York Jewish Times