Sino-Swiss Business News
Switzerland-based UBS Group AG, a global investment bank and financial services firm with around USD 1 trillion in assets, recently confirmed that it is planning to launch a digital banking platform that would reduce operational costs and stimulate growth. However, UBS said its plan depends on whether or not it can secure a digital bank license in mainland China. Edmund Koh, head of UBS’ Asia-Pacific division, says China’s framework digital banking guidelines should be available by June or July of this year. As reported by the SCMP, Koh is hoping that UBS’ virtual bank application (for a countrywide, majority-owned digital bank license) will be approved or at least move forward in some way. If UBS’ application is successful, then it will be joining Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings’ and Alibaba Group Holding’s banking units in offering cost-effective digital financial services throughout China. Koh, who is planning to incubate the initiative in China and then launch globally, remarked “We need scale, and I’m going to get that scale for UBS, working together with the Chinese authorities.” Private banking has been a highly profitable sector of the financial services industry; however, cost-to-income ratios continue to remain relatively high (around 70-80%) as well.
World-leading food and beverage giant Nestlé on Tuesday launched NESQINO – a series of healthy drinks made from 100 percent natural ingredients to tap into the health-food market and attract health-conscious consumers. The product has been developed by Nestlé Dairy Research & Development in less than 18 months, emphasizing healthy and balanced ingredients and aiming to differentiate itself from diet meal replacements. Its target consumers are aged 25-35 and interested in healthy lifestyles. Chinese consumers have shown a rising interest in health and well-being since the emergence of the COVID-19 epidemic, said Jason Yu, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel China. This offers more market potential for products related to health and well-being, he said. Rashid Qureshi, chairman and CEO of Nestlé China, said: “Chinese consumers have rigorous requirements for their health, and they are increasingly looking for solutions for their individual health needs. In response, Nestlé has brought together its global R&D resources and creative nutritionists to develop NESQINO, a smart and simple solution for making personalized healthy and tasty drinks.”
Credit Suisse achieved a key milestone for its Chinese activities. The Swiss bank won regulatory approval to take a majority stake in Founders Securities, a joint venture it maintains in China, it said in a statement in Friday. Credit Suisse is the latest bank to rush in following the lifting of restrictions. “Credit Suisse will work closely with Founder Securities to make the necessary arrangements to complete the planned capital injection and related procedures,” the bank said. With the move, Credit Suisse’s holding will increase to 51 percent, from one-third currently. Last year, Chinese authorities said it will remove foreign ownership limits for securities, insurance, and fund management companies next year – one year earlier than planned. For Credit Suisse, this means developing onshore capabilities, the bank said. “We intend to continue to invest in this important market to bring our integrated capabilities and our comprehensive range of financial products and services to both domestic and international clients in China,” Asia head Helman Sitohang said.
China calls for Switzerland to increase production of medical supplies and work with China to guarantee the materials needed in combating the COVID-19 and ensure the stability of global industrial and supply chains, a senior official said. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks in a telephone conversation with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis. China is speeding up production of ventilators, which are the most urgently-needed equipment, Wang said. He said China hopes Switzerland, one of the world’s major suppliers of ventilators parts, will increase production to meet the pressing demands of the world. China also would like to cooperate with Switzerland in researching and developing drugs and vaccines, Wang added. The State Councilor noted China has established a green channel to facilitate the transportation of supplies for pandemic prevention. China appreciated Switzerland for supporting the country in the fight against the novel coronavirus, he said, adding that the Swiss embassy and consulates in China lowered flags to half-mast as China mourned those sacrificed and succumbed to the COVID-19 on Tomb Sweeping Day, which showed the friendship of Swiss people to the Chinese people.
China is sending protective material to Switzerland with a first batch of “urgently needed” gowns delivered to Zurich hospitals on April 6th, Keystone-SDA news agency reported, citing cantonal authorities. Another flight arrived in Geneva and more are expected in the coming days. The personal protective gear arrived at Zurich Airport on Sunday evening from Shanghai. The supplies will be distributed to 34 healthcare institutions in the cantons of Zurich and Schwyz. Another flight landed on Monday in Geneva carrying 92 tonnes of protective medical equipment including masks made in China, Reuters reported. That flight contained 2.5 million surgical masks, 10 million gloves as well as goggles and thermometers. The equipment will be distributed to 13 Swiss hospitals and pharmaceutical associations. Additional protective materials such as masks, gloves and safety glasses are expected to arrive in the coming days, according to SWISS International Airlines.
Beginning April 1st, 2020, Schweizerzug and RTSB will connect Switzerland and China by rail once a week. This offer for maritime containers on the iron silk road includes Frenkendorf near Basel and Niederglatt near Zurich and serves both Xian in the Shaanxi province and Hefei in the Anhui province. The new service offers a fast and reliable alternative to ocean and air freight, which are both currently severely restricted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. To carry out this service offer, Schweizerzug AG, based in Frenkendorf, and RTSB Schweiz AG, headquartered in Gams, formed a joint venture. Schweizerzug AG is a Swiss service provider for intermodal container transport by rail, and RTSB Schweiz AG belongs to the international RTSB group, a transport company focused on transmodal connections between Europe and the CIS, Mongolia and China. The transit time for this new connection between Switzerland and China is approximately 15 days to Xian and 18 days to Hefei. Compared to sea transport on the Rotterdam – Shanghai route, the new product from Schweizerzug and RTSB is about twice as fast.
Swiss-Swedish multinational ABB has completed its acquisition of a majority stake in Chinese e-mobility solution provider Chargedot Shanghai New Energy Technology, which provides AC and DC charging stations and the software platform to EV manufacturers, charging network operators, and real estate developers. ABB announced the pending Chargedot acquisition back in late-October, a move which ABB hopes will strengthen its relationship with leading Chinese EV manufacturers as well as helping to broaden the company’s e-mobility portfolio with hardware and software developed specifically for local requirements. ABB already offers solutions from grid distribution to charging points for electric vehicles as well as for the electrification of ships, railways, trams, buses, and cable cars. Acquiring Chargedot and its 205 employees will help broaden the company’s already expansive geographic footprint.
Oerlikon has received new large orders for manmade fibers production solutions from three of the world’s leading manmade fibers manufacturers. All three companies are based in China and have been key customers of Oerlikon for many years. The orders are for Oerlikon Barmag’s world leading filament-spinning technology for the highly efficient production of polyester fibers. The three projects have a total value of more than 600 million Swiss francs ($625 million). A very small proportion of these projects will be recognized in Oerlikon Group’s order intake in 2020, and the majority will be accounted for in 2021 and 2022. On-site delivery and installation of these systems is planned for the period from 2021 to early 2023. The systems business in China remains largely unchanged despite the short-term interruption caused by the coronavirus epidemic following the Chinese New Year celebrations. Long-term project planning for major customers in the manmade fibers industry has resulted in new major orders being placed with Oerlikon Barmag.
As the deadly coronavirus continues to send jitters worldwide, panic-stricken countries are looking at ways to combat the spread. To limit the spread of the virus, hospitals in China are using Swiss manufacturer IQ Air’s purifiers. The air purifiers gained prominence in 2002 when the Hong Kong Hospital Authority deployed its air purifiers in facilities treating patients. In an interaction with Moneycontrol, CEO Jens Hammes outlined the company’s plans and explained how his company’s product can help in dealing with the epidemic.
China has approved the use of Swiss drugmaker Roche’s anti-inflammation drug Actemra for patients who develop severe complications from the coronavirus as it urgently hunts for new ways to combat the deadly infection that is spreading worldwide. China is hoping that some older drugs could stop severe cytokine release syndrome (CRS), or cytokine storms, an overreaction of the immune system which is considered a major factor behind catastrophic organ failure and death in some coronavirus patients. Actemra, a biologic drug approved in 2010 in the United States for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inhibits high Interleukin 6 (IL-6) protein levels that drive some inflammatory diseases. China’s National Health Commission said in treatment guidelines published online that Actemra can now be used to treat coronavirus patients with serious lung damage and high IL-6 levels.