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Top Swiss firms seen paying 'record' dividends

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Top Swiss firms seen paying 'record' dividends
Nestl; is expected to lead the way with higher dividends. Photo: AFP
19:02 CET+01:00
The top 20 companies on the Swiss stock exchange are expected to issue dividends to shareholders worth a record 35.8 billion francs ($37.2 billion) for 2014, according to a German business journal.

Handelszeitung said the predicted record sum is based on estimates from Zug wealth management company zCapital, which manages dividend funds.

The company made its calculations after examining the latest results of the country’s biggest companies that make up the Swiss Market Index (SMI) and examining their past dividend payment policies.

It anticipates Nestlé, the world’s largest food company based in Vevey (canton of Vaud), will lead the way with a dividend hike of five percent and a total outlay of seven billion francs, higher than ever before, despite a slowdown in growth.

Basel-based pharma giants Roche and Novartis and insurers Zurich Insurance and Swiss Re are also expected to pay handsome dividends, with the five top companies accounting for 70 percent of the payouts from Switzerland.

Other companies tipped to hand out higher dividends include UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank (with an estimated payout of 1.9 billion francs) and Geneva-based luxury group Richemont (up around 14 percent).

Two companies likely to cut dividends include Transocean, the Swiss-based oil and gas drilling company, and reinsurance giant Swiss Re.

The report said that 64 percent of the shareholders benefiting from the higher payouts will be foreign investors, including Black Rock, the world’s largest asset manager based in New York, and the Norwegian public pension fund.

According to estimates, BlackRock, the biggest single shareholder in Swiss companies, will receive more than one billion francs in dividends, while the Norwegian sovereign fund stands to gain 900 million francs, Handelszeitung said.

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