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Hildebrand says he ‘acted correctly’ on deals

Swiss central bank chief Philipp Hildebrand on Thursday defended himself against criticism of foreign currency transactions made by his family last year and suggested "political motives" were at work.

Hildebrand says he 'acted correctly' on deals
Swiss National Bank

Speaking publicly for the first time about the scandal, Hildebrand told media in Zurich that he had complied with all the regulations of the central bank.

“I acted correctly on every count,” he said, following days of media speculation over allegations of insider trading.

It emerged last month that his wife Kashya Hildebrand profited after buying $504,000 in August, just weeks before an intervention by the SNB to halt the rise of the franc — a move that saw the dollar rise significantly against the Swiss currency.

The purchase, which investigators said appeared to have been carried out without her husband’s knowledge, was deemed “sensitive” by auditors who nevertheless cleared the couple of any wrongdoing.

“I immediately allowed an investigation and allowed the investigators to look at all my records,” Hildebrand said.

Bank Sarasin in Basel this week dismissed an employee who allegedly transmitted transaction details to a lawyer close to the far-right Swiss People’s Party whose chief Christoph Blocher is a Hildebrand critic.

Zurich prosecutors have launched a criminal case against a 39-year-old former bank worker.

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Credit Suisse sells fund to Black Rock

Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse said on Thursday it would sell its stock exchange-traded investment fund business to US investment firm BlackRock as part of a divestment plan announced last July.

Credit Suisse sells fund to Black Rock
Credit Suisse's offices in the centre of Zurich. Photo: Credit Suisse

BlackRock, the world's largest fund group, is a leader in exchange-traded instruments.

Credit Suisse said that at the end of November its so-called ETF business was managing assets worth 16 billion Swiss francs ($17.3 billion), and that the sale was expected to be completed by mid-2013.
The bank did not disclose the terms of the deal which, it said, still needed approval from regulatory authorities.

Swiss media were quick to note that former Swiss National Bank chairman Philipp Hildebrand joined BlackRock last year after stepping down as head of the central bank.

Hildebrand resigned following a controversy over a currency transaction made by his wife through a joint account held with him.

He was named as vice-president of BlackRock  in June 2012 following his SNB resignation five months earlier.

"This is an important strategic step in an industry that requires significant scale," Credit Suisse said of its planned acquisition.

Thursday's announcement was not unexpected, yet Credit Suisse saw its share price rise 0.84 percent to 25.17 Swiss francs in midday trading on a Swiss
stock market marginally down.

"The ETF business is generally a low margin business which needs scale to make it attractive," Vontobel analyst Terese Nielsen said in a note, pointing
out that BlackRock is one of the world's largest ETF providers.

The sector meanwhile currently represents only about four percent of Credit Suisse's managed funds, she said.
ETFs, which enable investors to invest in a bundle of assets in the same category, are traded on the stock exchange in the same way as individual stocks.

They represent assets such as stocks, commodities and bonds.