Mar 31, 2008
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Swatch chairman says considering stock market delisting

Mar 31, 2008

GENEVA, March 31, 2008 (AFP) - Nicolas Hayek, chairman of the world's largest watch-maker Swatch told a newspaper on Monday, March 31th that he was considering taking the group private.

Swatch jewellery collection 2008

He also called for a reform of the financial and stock market.

For 2007, Swatch posted record net profit of 1.015 billion Swiss francs (644.2 million euros, 1.0 billion dollars), up 22.3 percent from the figure in 2006.

This was the first time that the manufacturer of Omega, Longines, Tissot, Hamilton and Swatch watches had made a net profit of more than one billion francs.

"The stock market is not an advantageous place for firms like Swatch Group. I have planned to take it away from (the market), but I do not want to incur debts," he told Swiss Sunday newspaper NZZ am Sonntag in an interview.

When contacted on Monday, a spokeswoman for Swatch would not give further comment on any timeframe or details regarding a possible delisting.

The group's earlier share buyback programe worth 400 million Swiss francs, concluded on November 8, 2007, was followed by a new buyback programme worth 420 million Swiss francs launched December 10, 2007.

Earlier this month, Swatch said it will propose during its annual general meeting for these shares to be cancelled.

Hayek said that a reform of the financial and stock markets was needed.

"Most of financial companies and funds do not act in the interest of the firms in which they invest in, rather the opposite," he said, pointing out that even though Swatch generated record income, US funds sold all of the group's stocks as they need cash.

"They don't care what happens to the stock. It should no longer be allowed for anyone to invest in a firm without the acceptance of the management and other investors," he said.

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