Swiss Post to convert to PLC in June 2013

Swiss Post looks set to become a Public Limited Company – solely owned by the state – from 26th June, 2013, in a move aimed to improve the flexibility and independence of the business. The transformation of the company into a corporate-style structure was confirmed by the Federal Council last week, following the adoption of postal reform legislation in October.

The nation’s executive also approved strategic objectives for Swiss Post for the years 2013 to 2016.

This will involve prioritising quality in postal services and profitable growth, consolidating the company’s market position in its core business areas including communications, logistics, payment services and passenger transport.

The Federal Council said Swiss Post would have “entrepreneurial autonomy” under the new structure, with the board given full freedom of choice for business strategy and policy.

“The federal role as owner is separate from its role as a regulator and supervisor institutionally,” it said.

The Federal Council said that as Swiss Post AG, the company would be required to pursue a “sustainable and ethical” corporate strategy and take the concerns of the various regions of Switzerland into account in its services.

Swiss Post will be required to act in the interest of fair competition, operate a transparent communications policy and operate under a “progressive and socially responsible” hiring policy.

The company, which has a key international alliance with France’s La Poste through a joint venture Asendia, will under its new structure have the power to enter into financial and business alliances, make investments and form subsidiaries.

The new strategy for Swiss Post approved by the Federal Council also includes financial goals, for the company to continue seeking growth and dividends equivalent to comparable domestic and foreign companies, and to keep net debt below 3.3 times earnings before tax, depreciation and amortisation.

PostFinance

As Swiss Post converts into a Public Limited Company, its banking division is being spun out as an independent PLC.

As such, the new banking company will require a full banking licence to continue providing its financial services, since it will no longer be eligible for the licence exemptions enjoyed while operating as part of Swiss Post.

After two and a half years spent applying for a banking licence, the Swiss banking regulator, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), said earlier this month that it has decided to issue PostFinance with a conditional banking licence.

This gives PostFinance the power to act as a bank and a securities dealer, but requires various conditions to be met before a full licence can be granted, in terms of the company’s structure, finances, supervisory controls and employees.

“FINMA expects PostFinance Ltd to fulfill the remaining open conditions within a reasonable period of time,” the regulator said. “In order for the licence to take legal effect, the Federal Council must make the necessary decisions about hiving off PostFinance into a limited company.”

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