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Struggling Swiss power firm loses billion francs

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Struggling Swiss power firm loses billion francs
Alpiq CEO Jasmin Staiblin under pressure over losses — and pregnancy. Photo: Alpiq
12:19 CET+01:00
Alpiq, the Swiss-based European energy company, posted a net loss of almost 1.1 billion francs for 2012, down slightly from the 1.3-billion-franc loss recorded the previous year as sales fell by almost a tenth.

In announcing its financial results on Tuesday, the company said it was floating a loan of between 800 million and one billion francs to increase its capital.

Primarily a power station operator with registered offices in Neuchâtel, Alpiq was created in 2009 through the merger of Swiss energy companies Atel and EOS.

Alpiq launched a reorganization and a restructuring programme in 2011 which continued through last year, involving layoffs and divestments.

The number of employees at the company has dropped 30 percent to less than 8,000 from 11,208 since the merger    

The company in a statement said its results for the year were weighed down by impairment charges totalling 1.6 billion francs, about half of them linked to Swiss power generation activities.

The charges were due in part to economic and regulatory changes, it said.

The company is grappling with a Swiss government decision to phase out nuclear power plants.

Alpiq, which supplies about one-third of Switzerland’s electricity, said annual revenue dipped nine percent to 12.7 billion francs from the previous year.

The energy company it is continuing to shed assets and aims to reduce annual costs by a further 100 million francs, starting in 2015.

Investors responded positively to Alpiq’s plan to boost its capital, pushing up shares by more than nine percent to 117.50 francs in morning trading.

In the past year, however, the share price has fallen from a high of 175 francs.
 
A quarter of Alpiq is owned by French energy giant EDF.

Blick.ch reported controversy surrounding Alpiq’s 42-year-old CEO, Jasmin Staiblin, who is pregnant and expecting a child in May, with a 14-week absence from work scheduled.

Alpiq operates in 30 European countries, generating and transporting energy, in addition to trading in electricity.

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