Sino-Swiss Business News
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.
In the face of the coronavirus outbreak, SWISS International Airlines has extended its flight suspension to China and added Iran and Italy to the list of countries with no or limited service. SWISS announced that for the safety of passengers and flight crew it was further suspending flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai until April 24th. This follows the announcement in February that the suspension on flights to Mainland China would be suspended until March 28. This was a decision taken by the parent company, Lufthansa Group, and applies to several airlines including Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines. The Lufthansa Group also suspended flights from Munich to Hong Kong between March 6th and April 24th. Some connections are also cancelled on the routes from Frankfurt and Munich to Seoul. New restrictions have also been put in place for other destinations that have seen an outbreak of Covid-19 infections in the last couple of weeks. Connections to Tehran have been suspended until April 30th, according to Keystone-SDA.
Chungkin General Hospital in Liangjiang New Area, in Southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, recently signed an agreement with the prestigious Paracelsus Clinic of Switzerland, which officials said would help promote the medical cooperation between the two sides. Under the agreement, they will jointly establish expert workshops, become teaching hospitals for each other, establish diagnoses and treatment centers and arrange international medical exchange activities. A program of mutual visits will also be established for regular international exchanges and joint staff training, enabling local doctors to acquire internationally recognized skills. Co-established by the Second Affiliated Hospital of the Chongqing Medical University, Chungkin General Hospital covers an area nearly 19 hectares, is equipped with 1,000 beds and boasts top medical experts and over 30 departments. Switzerland’s Paracelsus Clinic, meanwhile, is an international bio-medical center renowned for its biomedicine and holistic medicine.
Swiss Ambassador to China Bernardino Regazzoni expressed his solidarity to those who suffer under the situation caused by the coronavirus. And according to him, Switzerland will soon send hospital equipments to China. The Swiss Government is currently working on a shipment of hospital equipment in coordination with the Chinese authorities. At the same time, a contribution of CHF 600,000 (around RMB 4.3 million.) was made in response to a call for help from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) located in Geneva and in support of World Health Organization (WHO) in China and its regional office for the Western Pacific. On the private sector side, Swiss companies, which play a key role in the thriving bilateral relations, have been donating medical supplies and nutrition products to support the fight against the epidemic, supporting local organizations on the frontline. In addition, Swiss Pharmaceutical industry is committed to providing expertise, products and advice to support virus research and patient diagnosis.
Switzerland is China’s fifth biggest investment target in Europe, an EY study has found. In 2019, Chinese investors made 12 transactions in Switzerland, investing a total of USD 571 million. Although there were fewer transactions, the total value increased. The consulting company EY has analyzed Chinese investments in Europe and placed Switzerland in joint fifth place with the Netherlands for the number of transactions. Over the past year, Chinese investors made 12 transactions in each of the two countries, compared to 13 in Switzerland in the previous year. There were 182 transactions in Europe last year, most of them in Germany. In terms of the value of the transactions, Switzerland is sixth in Europe, after Chinese investors invested USD 571 million in Swiss companies in 2019. This is an increase in transaction value over the previous year (USD 492 million). In Europe as a whole, Chinese investors invested USD 17.3 billion in 2019, with most of this sum going to companies in Great Britain.
Swiss International Air Lines (Swiss) is to switch its Zurich-Beijing services from the present Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) to the new Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX). The change will be made with the start of the 2020 summer schedules at the end of March. The move will offer travelers more attractive timetables on the route. The eastbound service will leave Zurich late in the afternoon and arrive in Beijing just after 09:00 on the following day. The westbound flight will depart from Beijing at 11:00 and arrive in Zurich at 15:35 on the same day. Swiss serves Beijing daily in summer and five times weekly in winter. The route is operated using Airbus A330 equipment. The new Beijing Daxing International Airport, which was designed by top architect Zaha Hadid, opened last autumn and is in the south of the city. The new facility meets all the requirements of an airport today and is ideally linked to the public transport network. The airport is set to become one of the world’s busiest by 2025.
Following the fastest-ever changing speed of the Chinese Marketplace, precipitated by the behaviors of Consumers & Shoppers changing to “digitalization”, “diversification” and “speediness”, it has become critical for FMCG Companies to develop highly Innovative Technologies & Solutions. In the spirit of driving Consumer & Customer-centricity, Nestle GCR Supply Chain is leading with breakthrough Digital Supply Chain Capabilities in China. Recently, Nestle built a Smart “Digital Supply Chain Center (DSCC)” successfully and launched in Beijing with the witness from one of its business partners Kidswant, the well-known company in maternal and infant industry. Digital Supply Chain Center (DSCC) is a data and technology integrated smart Digital Supply Chain Center, providing a Real-time and end to end visibility through entire value chain. The Flow of Data, Information & Intelligence become visible in order to detect demand signals, triggering effective & on-time actions, therefore responding to the needs of consumers, shoppers & customers.
A delegation from the China International Import Expo (CIIE) bureau visited Switzerland from January 9th to 11th to invite more local companies to participate in the CIIE this November. Led by Wang Bingnan, vice-minister of commerce and director of the CIIE bureau, the delegation visited the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, the World Economic Forum as well as a number of renowned Swiss enterprises. During the visit, Wang said that Swiss companies rank among the top in Europe in terms of the number of exhibitors and booth areas at the CIIE. He also expressed hope that Swiss businesses can seize the opportunities provided by the expo and increase their exports to the Chinese market. Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, state secretary for Economic Affairs of Switzerland, said that the Swiss government would encourage more companies to attend the third edition of the CIIE. She also said that Switzerland would be an active participant in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
ChemChina and Sinochem are consolidating their agricultural assets into a new holding company to be called Syngenta Group, ChemChina unit Syngenta said. Chen Lichtenstein, current president and CEO of Shenzhen-listed crop protection company ADAMA, which will also be incorporated into the new group, will be nominated CFO of the newly formed Syngenta Group. He will be based in Basel, Switzerland, the Swiss group said in a statement. Reuters reported last month that China National Chemical Corp, or ChemChina, had approached Chinese state-backed investors for up to USD 10 billion in funding as part of a reorganization of its agrichemicals business ahead of a public float. The reorganization includes Syngenta, the Swiss pesticide producer that ChemChina agreed in 2016 to buy for USD 43 billion. The fundraising efforts and eventual stock market listing are designed to cut ChemChina’s debt ahead of a long-awaited mega-merger with state-owned peer Sinochem. Frank Ning, the chairman of both companies, has encouraged individual business units to tap capital markets ahead of any tie-up, which has been in the works since 2016. ChemChina wants to list Syngenta on China’s technology-focused STAR market in mid-2020, according to fundraising documents dated from October.
Bühler Group has sold its flour ingredient business to Bakels. The Swiss group manufactures and distributes bakery ingredients and application solutions. As part of the transaction, 70 employees of Bühler Guangzhou are moving to the new owner with immediate effect. Both parties have agreed not to disclose the selling price. “With Bakels, we have found an excellent owner and strategic partner for flour ingredient solutions,” said Johannes Wick, chief executive officer (CEO) of Bühler’s Grains & Food business. Bakels is a Swiss enterprise with more than 2,750 employees. Its focus is on ingredients for bakery and confectionery. “Flour ingredients have been a missing link in our portfolio so far,” said Armin Ulrich, chairman of Bakels. “We are excited to close that gap now by taking over Bühler’s well-positioned business and strengthen our position in China.”