Sino-Swiss Business News
The cash-strapped Baoshida Swissmetal company has been taken over by a group of Swiss investors six years after it was sold to a Chinese group. The newly-founded Swissmetal Industries, backed by two private investors, said it had acquired the firm, which employs about 160 people at two factories in the small towns of Dornach and Reconvilier. The near-bankrupt copper alloy manufacturer went into provisional receivership, but a plan for a debt-restructuring moratorium was delayed several times pending a legal case. The main creditor, the Chinese Development Bank, gave a EUR 15 million (CHF16.4 million) loan to Baoshida Swissmetal in 2016 and has accused the administrator of providing insufficient information about the financial situation of the manufacturer. In May, the Chinese Development Bank refused an offer of CHF 9 million by Swiss Team for the company. The Chinese chief executive of Baoshida Swissmetal was dismissed in 2018 and was given a suspended prison sentence by a Swiss court for unlawful business practices last year. On Tuesday, the new owners of Swissmetal announced plans to restructure the company in the near future and limit its production to one factory.
China moved up three places to 14th among the world’s most innovative countries this year, according to a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization on July 24th. The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019 ranked 129 economies based on 80 indicators, including traditional measurements such as research and development investments, international patent and trademark applications, as well as newer indicators such as mobile phone app creation and hi-tech exports. China remained in first place in quality of innovation among middle-income economies for the seventh consecutive year, according to the report, and achieved the top spot in patents, utility models, trademarks and industrial designs by origin, as well as hi-tech and creative goods exports. The country also ranked second only to the US in 18 of the top 100 science and technology clusters. This year’s report named Switzerland as the world’s most innovative country, followed by Sweden, the US, the Netherlands and the UK.
Belimo increased its sales by 9.3% to CHF 355.2 million in the first half-year 2019. On a currency-adjusted basis, this corresponds to a growth of 9.9%. Operating income before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose to CHF 67.1 million (2018: CHF 59.5 million) resulting in an EBIT margin of 18.9% (18.3%). Advantageous currency effects among the factors contributed to this margin increase. A net income of CHF 53.4 million (CHF 47.6 million) and earnings per share of CHF 86.85 (CHF 77.40) resulted. Belimo generated a free cash flow of CHF 26.0 million (CHF 49.6 million). The investment of CHF 10 million as a short-term fixed cash deposit as well as higher capital expenditure, among others for the purchase of the building for the new service and logistics center near Dresden, reduced the free cash flow in the reporting period. Net liquidity was CHF 113.6 million at the end of June and the equity ratio was 77.9%. Sales in the Asia Pacific market region grew by 9.0%, in currency-adjusted terms by 10.5%. China in particular, the largest market in the region, made an important contribution to sales growth thanks to the consistent implementation of the growth strategy. One positive highlight in the Chinese market is the good development of the OEM business. However, uncertainties arising in China from the US-China trade dispute have become increasingly noticeable among market participants. Furthermore, the remaining markets in the Asia Pacific region did not develop as expected.
A Chinese university signed an agreement with the team of the Blue Brain Project, an attempt by Swiss scientists to create synthetic brains, to conduct brain science research together. Southeast University in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, and the European team will jointly build a database of cranial nerves accessible to global brain scientists for research of brain neurons and related medicine development, according to the deal they inked. Sean Hill, member of the Blue Brain Project, said Southeast University, which is the first academic institute they have cooperated with in China, is well-equipped with the neuromorphic reconstruction technology they need. Researchers of both sides will try to realize large-scale reconstruction of brain neurons through technologies like machine vision and virtual reality in a bid to explore brain and brain-like intelligence, said Peng Hanchuan, a researcher with the university.
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis is expanding its research and development of innovative drugs in China, an executive of the company said. Novartis is expected to submit 50 new drug applications for regulatory approval in China between 2019 and 2023, John Tsai, head of global drug development and chief medical officer for Novartis, said during an interview with Xinhua. Benefitting from China’s pharmaceutical regulatory reform, which enables pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs much faster, Novartis has received 24 approvals for new drug applications in the country in the last two years, including nine new molecular entities, according to Tsai. One of the new drugs that will be available in the Chinese market is an orally taken asthma drug, which is described by Tsai as unique because most of the drugs for asthma are not taken orally. Tsai said the respiratory disease is one of the top five diseases in China. The company will report the results of a 5,000-patient study for the drug before the end of the year.
Swiss industrial conglomerate ABB Group will open a new innovation center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in the second half of this year to locally provide solutions for smart building development, said an executive. Oliver Iltisberger, managing director of the smart buildings business line of ABB’s electrification business, said as China is seeking new ways to promote energy efficiency and minimize carbon emissions to design healthier environments in its cities, ABB is now experiencing fast growth in the areas of intelligent building and related electrical businesses. Eager to improve its service ability, the group opened a new ABB customer experience center in Beijing on Monday to highlight the development of smart cities with infrastructure upgrades, carbon-free transportation and energy savings. After the group’s restructuring in 2018, ABB’s business today focuses on four areas – electrification, industrial automation, motion, and robotics and discrete automation, supported by its common digital platform named ABB Ability.
Nestlé Research and Development China has challenged students at Beijing’s university education platform, Tsinghua x-lab, to identify new solutions for product packaging. Faculty members and 30 students at Tsinghua x-lab will be given five months to come up with innovative packaging ideas and new business models across five areas: recyclable or reusable, e-commerce, gifting, consumer education and engagement. Part of the company’s Nestlé Needs Youth initiative, the teams will have access to Nestlé’s research and development expertise and infrastructure at its R&D centre in Beijing, including labs and prototyping facilities. The challenge will end with a final event where teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges that will include executives from Nestlé, Tsinghua University professionals and industry experts. The top three most compelling ideas will be awarded prizes and the opportunity to develop their concept further in partnership with Nestlé.
Premier Li Keqiang called for jointly safeguarding multilateralism and free trade, so as to maintain the open, inclusive world economic system. Li made the remarks when meeting with Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), in the city of Dalian, Liaoning Province, during the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2019, also known as the Summer Davos Forum. Cooperation between China and the WEF started almost at the same time as China’s reform and opening-up. The two sides’ fruitful and effective cooperation has not only boosted China’s reform and opening-up endeavor but also provided an important platform for discussing world economic governance, Li said. China stands ready to strengthen its partnership with the WEF and expand cooperation on various platforms, Premier Li noted. Li also called for grasping the opportunity of the new round of industrial revolution and keeping improving the Summer Davos Forum to explore new frontiers for new champions of the world. For his part, Schwab hailed the sound cooperation between China and the WEF and thanked China for its strong support. The WEF is committed to achieving the goal of sustainable development and attaches great importance to cooperation with China, Schwab said, pledging to jointly advance bilateral cooperation to better serve China’s development.
BIS approved the establishment of a BIS Innovation Hub to foster international collaboration on innovative financial technology (fintech) within the central banking community. The Innovation Hub would complement the already well-established cooperation within the existing committees. In the initial setup phase, the Hub Centers will be established in Switzerland (Basel), Singapore, and Hong Kong with the support of the respective regulators in each country—that is, SNB, MAS, and HKMA. These regulators have also published statements welcoming the establishment of Innovation Hubs. The Hub will span multiple locations. The first two Hub Centers will be set up in Basel and Hong Kong, making use of the existing BIS facilities. The third Hub Center will be established in Singapore, subject to the completion of the necessary institutional arrangements. As part of the second phase of implementation additional Hub Centers will be added across Americas and Europe. The Hubs will be tasked with identifying and developing in-depth insights into critical technology trends affecting central banking, developing public goods in the technology space to improve functioning of the global financial system, and serving as a focal point for a network of central bank experts on innovation.
Switzerland-based office furniture company Lista Office Group (LO) was recently acquired by Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Henglin Chair Industry (Henglin). LO said the sale forms part of its international expansion and growth strategy, with its Leinhard family owners having been looking for some time for a strategic partner. After talks with a number of companies from the US, Europe and Asia, they opted for the offer from Henglin, a firm established 20 years ago by the Wang family and now publicly listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.