Switzerland's Arch-Agitator Strikes Again

By Blackman, Andrew | The Independent (London, England), July 19, 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Switzerland's Arch-Agitator Strikes Again


Blackman, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)


FIRST SWITZERLAND - now Britain and the rest of Europe. Martin Ebner, the financier who shook up the staid Swiss financial services industry by telling companies to put shareholders first, is extending his investment strategy abroad.

On Friday he bought 0.4 per cent of HSBC Holdings, the UK's biggest bank, for about $275m (pounds 168m) and raised his stakes in drug-makers Glaxo Wellcome and Hoechst of Germany. He also cut his stakes in the Swiss companies he helped to shape. At the end of June, non-Swiss companies accounted for about 19 per cent of Ebner's Ffr20bn (pounds 2.1bn) portfolio, up from 11 per cent in 1997.

Ebner, 52, a former trader with a penchant for bow-ties, has a reputation for influencing companies in which he invests - and profiting from it. He triggered Credit Suisse's Ffr13.1bn offer for Winterthur Insurance in August, which lifted his personal fortune to more than Ffr2bn. He also helped engineer the $29.3bn merger of Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corp, creating Europe's biggest bank.

Before Switzerland introduced screen-based trading in 1996, Ebner could add a premium to a stock he favoured merely by showing up on the Zurich exchange trading floor. These days, he also throws his weight around company boardrooms.

HSBC shares rose as much as 2.3 per cent to a three-month high of 1,678p after Ebner revealed his stake, raising optimism that he will nudge managers to do what he did at UBS: Focus on the bottom line.

For years Ebner was a thorn in UBS's side, calling on it to improve earnings and reduce the number of board members. He also opposed its plan to introduce a single bearer share, which would have diluted the rights of registered shareholders such as Ebner.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Switzerland's Arch-Agitator Strikes Again
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?