Switzerland’s Neutrality Policy in the Spotlight After it Joins EU Sanctions Against Russia

Switzerland, known for its neutral status in foreign relations for over two centuries, has recently come under spotlight after it sided with the European Union in imposing sanctions against Moscow and its leaders over the Ukraine war. The move has triggers questions about the future of country’s policy of neutrality. In an interview with Caixin, Swiss Ambassador to China Bernardino Regazzoni said neutrality doesn’t mean indifference, and that a neutral state has the right to choose political positions and can stad up for universal values.

Six Swiss May Be Better Option for Overseas Chinese Listings, Exchange’s CEO Says

Switzerland may be a better destination for Chinese companies seeking to go public overseas, the chief executive officer of the Six Swiss Exchange told Yicai Global. The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are much bigger markets than Six, Jos Dijsselhof said in a recent interview. But if a company is interested in being a bigger fish in a smaller pond, instead of being a smaller fish in a very big pond, then Six would be an attractive option, he added. Zurich-based Six was set up in 1993. With a total market capitalization of USD1.8 trillion, it was Europe’s fifth-biggest stock exchange as of January 2021, according to data provider Statista. “Switzerland is not a part of the European Union, but an independent and neutral place with very good segments like life sciences, biotechnology, financial services, and construction and materials,” Dijsselhof noted. “We have a lot of advantages and we bring all of those advantages to play for investors.” Dijsselhof said he was confident that the first Chinese listing in Switzerland would happen in the second half of this year. Even “hopefully a couple of listings,” he said. So far, engineering equipment giant Sany Heavy Industry, battery materials supplier Shanshan Holding, battery maker Gotion High-Tech, and cardiovascular equipment supplier Lepu Medical Technology have set out plans to list in Switzerland, Dijsselhof noted, adding that there is a long list of companies that are interested in listing on Six, but have not made their plans public yet.

Chinese Pianist Lang Lang Performs at Highest Railway Station in Europe

Chinese pianist Lang Lang on Thursday gave a solo piano performance at Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe, an artistic endeavor to promote cultural exchanges between China and Europe by means of music. Surrounded by mountains and snow on the Jungfrau in central Switzerland, Lang Lang’s interpretation of “Love dream,” “Jasmine flower” and “Goldberg Variations” won warm applause from the audience. Noting that it is the first time he has played the piano on a snowy mountain, Lang Lang said that having the chance to play in a “fairytale-like” environment is a very special experience despite the low temperature on the snow-capped mountain, which is quite challenging for piano players. The song “Jasmine Flower” was specially chosen for this performance, he said, hoping to arouse the audience’s interest in learning more about the Chinese culture through the beauty of oriental music. A well-known scenic spot and snow sports resort, the Jungfrau is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps at a height of 4,158 meters above sea level. In 2001, UNESCO listed the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch as a World Heritage Site.

Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Korean Peninsula Affairs Liu Xiaoming Visits Switzerland

On 14 April 2022, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Korean Peninsula Affairs Liu Xiaoming met Livia Leu, State Secretary at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Bern. The two sides exchanged views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland Wang Shiting attended the meeting. Liu Xiaoming elaborated on China’s position on the Korean Peninsula issue. He underscored that China does not want to see escalation of tension on the Peninsula and calls on relevant parties to stay cool-headed, exercise restraint and resume meaningful dialogue at an early date. He also commended the mediation efforts made by Switzerland for resolving the Peninsula issue and welcomed Switzerland to continue to play a constructive role. Leu appreciated the important role played by China in promoting the political settlement of the Peninsula issue. She echoed the point that relevant parties should stay cool-headed, exercise restraint and resolve the issue through diplomacy. She said that Switzerland will continue to play a positive role for the political settlement of the Peninsula issue and maintain close communication with China in this regard. On 13 April, Liu Xiaoming visited the renowned Geneva Centre for Security Policy(GCSP) and exchanged views with Director Thomas Greminger and other GCSP experts over the Korean Peninsula situation and other international issues of mutual interest.

Three Chinese Lithium Companies Pursue Secondary Listings in Europe

Three Chinese lithium companies are planning secondary listings in Switzerland, The Paper reported. These three companies are Keda Industrial Group Co Ltd, Gotion High-tech and Ningbo Shanshan Co Ltd. Keda announced on April 8 that it planned to terminate the non-public offering of A shares in 2022 and apply for overseas issuance of global depository receipts or GDR and listing on the SIX Swiss Exchange. Global depository receipts refer to globally issued stocks and bonds that can be traded in two or more financial markets, which can facilitate international investors in stock trading, dividend payment and rights offering. The newly added A shares of underlying securities represented by the issuance of GDR shall not exceed 100 million shares, which shall not exceed 5.3 percent of the total share capital of the company’s ordinary shares prior to this issuance, the report said, citing Keda’s announcement. After issuance expense deduction, the company will use the raised funds from the issuance of GDR to expand its main business and strategic investment business, promote the global layout and supplement the company’s operational capital, Keda said.

Switzerland Remains Global Patent Leader

Swiss companies filed almost seven times as many patent applications per million inhabitants last year as companies in the United States. The medical technology sector led the field. After a slight decline due to Covid in 2020, patent applications in Europe rose again last year, the European Patent Office (EPO) said in a statement. The Munich-based body received a total of 188,600 patent applications in 2021, an increase of 4.5% year-on-year, setting a new record. It registered 8,442 patent applications from Switzerland, up 3.9%. The US remains the country with the highest number of patent applications (46,553), while patent filings from Chinese companies “continued to climb steeply”, increasing by 24% last year (16,665), the EPO said. Per million inhabitants, however, Switzerland remains way out in the lead with 969 patent applications, followed by Sweden (488), Denmark (454), the Netherlands (383) and Finland (380). The US had 140 applications per million inhabitants and the UK 82.

Chinese Investors Rediscover Taste for Swiss Companies

After a pandemic-related slump in 2020, Chinese companies last year spent more money on acquisitions or investments in Swiss companies. They invested a total of USD 96 million (CHF89 million) on nine deals. In 2020 they spent only USD 7 million on eight acquisitions or investments in Switzerland, according to a study published on Friday by consultants EY. Three of the nine transactions in 2021 were in the healthcare sector (pharma, biotech or medical technology), while there were two in consumer products and services. “In Switzerland in particular the healthcare sector is increasingly becoming one of the most important targets for Chinese companies because there’s a lot of catching up to be done in this area in China, especially in research and development,” said Hubert Stadler, head of EY’s China desk in Switzerland. This trend can be observed throughout Europe. The number of Chinese acquisitions and investments in the health sector increased from 16 in 2020 to 26 last year. Overall, Switzerland’s nine deals put it in sixth place; the previous year it shared fifth place with Italy and Spain. At the top, Britain (36 deals) overtook Germany (35).

Swiss Re Names Ivan Gonzalez as CEO of Reinsurance, China

Global reinsurance giant Swiss Re has announced that Ivan Gonzalez will serve as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Reinsurance for China and China Country President, where he relocates from New York to Beijing. In his new role, Gonzalez takes on responsibility for all of the firm’s reinsurance operations in China. Most recently, he served as the CEO of North America for Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, a role he held since 2016. His career began in 2001 as a financial analyst with Swiss Re Capital Partners in New York. In 2006, he moved to Swiss Re Group Strategy in Zurich and was later named CEO of Latin America for Swiss Re Corporate Solutions in 2011. Effective July 1st, Katie McGrath takes over from Gonzalez as Regional CEO for Swiss Re Corporate Solutions in North America, based in New York. She brings more than 25 years of experience across multiple roles in commercial insurance. McGrath joined the firm in 2019 and has since been responsible for its Accident & Health portfolio in North America. Prior to joining Swiss Re, she held several senior roles at AIG in New York.

Three Chinese Companies Plan Swiss Listings

Three Chinese companies – an engineering machinery maker, a battery producer and a medical equipment manufacturer – unveiled plans on Wednesday to list on the SIX Swiss Exchange, as Beijing reaffirms its support of offshore listings. Shanghai-listed Sany Heavy Industry Co, and Shenzhen-traded Gotion High Tech Co and Lepu Medical Technology (Beijing) Co said in respective filings that they aim to sell Global Depository Receipts in Switzerland to fund global expansion. The companies also said they were answering government calls to strengthen connectivity between Chinese and European capital markets, and that listing overseas would help broaden financing channels and improve corporate governance. Late last year, China broadened a stock connect scheme linking Shanghai and London to include capital markets in Germany and Switzerland. The first batch of applicants under the expanded scheme comes as Chinese vice premier Liu He said the Chinese government continues to support offshore listings by domestic companies.

ABB Publishes Sustainability Report 2021

ABB has released its Sustainability Report 2021, outlining the achievements of the company under the four pillars of its ambitious 2030 sustainability strategy. “Sustainability is central to ABB’s company Purpose and to our ability to generate value for our stakeholders across the whole value chain,” said ABB CEO Björn Rosengren. “I am very pleased that in 2021 we got off to an excellent start in the pursuit of our ambitious targets we have set ourselves in our sustainability strategy 2030.” ABB has become one of the first companies in its industry to disclose the eligibility of its offerings in the European Union’s new classification system for sustainable economic activities, known as “EU taxonomy”. The goal of the EU taxonomy is to create a clear definition of what is “sustainable” in order to drive investment in economic activities that contribute to the EU’s climate and energy targets and that support the European Green Deal. In the past year, ABB made strong progress on its way towards reaching carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2030 as it reduced its CO2 emissions by 39 percent, compared with the baseline year of 2019. ABB has committed to electrifying its entire vehicle fleet of more than 10,000 vehicles and sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. With Beijing (China), Porvoo (Finland) and Ede (Netherlands), three additional ABB Mission to Zero™ sites were onboarded in 2021, all of which are running ABB digital and smart energy management solutions, underpinning the Group’s commitment to lead by example when it comes to reducing emissions.

 

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