Swiss Financial Market Services outlines infrastructure plans

Source: Swiss Financial Market Services

Swiss Financial Market Services AG, as an integrated infrastructure company, aims to strengthen decisively the international competitiveness of the Swiss financial centre.

Three pillars will underpin the strategy: integration, internationalisation and innovation.

Swiss Financial Market Services (SFMS), which emanated from the merger of the SWX Group, SIS Group and Telekurs Group, has successfully commenced its activities. During the first months of operation, the Board of Directors and Group Executive Committee have focused on devising the strategy for the new company. Within the framework of this process, the expectations of the company's shareholders were clarified and the strategic foundation defined.

SFMS operates primarily in the service of the Swiss financial centre and its participants. It provides internationally competitive infrastructure that spans the entire value chain of securities trading and payment transactions. In doing so, the company aims on one hand to lend meaningful support to the realisation of the vision formulated in the financial centre's Master Plan, i.e. to achieve a position among the world's top 3 financial centres. On the other hand, the outstanding infrastructural services it renders in terms of quality and cost-effectiveness will open up new business opportunities and facilitate efficiency gains for the banks that are active in the Swiss financial centre. In turn, they will be able to focus even more intently on their customers and thus create the conditions for sustainable earnings growth. Three pillars underpin the strategy of SFMS, namely the integration, internationalisation and innovation of its range of services.

Three-pillar approach to achieving strategic goals

By taking on additional activities across the entire value chain that are not core businesses of the financial centre's participants, the degree of integration will be heightened. This will allow the customers of SFMS to focus on their traditional market activities and simultaneously benefit from efficiency gains.

The further internationalisation of SFMS will enable its customers to be active in other financial centres and handle the related international transactions more efficiently. As a result, market participants will not only benefit from easier access to new markets, but in particular from the size advantages afforded by the foreign expansion of SFMS, even as Swiss regulatory supremacy is safeguarded at all times.

SFMS's close collaboration with its customers, as well as the infrastructural competencies it has gained through years of experience, represent the foundation for innovation. To the benefit of all participants in the Swiss financial centre, SFMS desires to take a leading role in the development of new innovative products and services.

Reinforce strengths; diversify risks

In terms of the composition of the business portfolio, the strategy can be described more concretely by the following:

The trading in Swiss blue chips that is facilitated by the Cash Markets division will be resolutely defended against increasing competition. With the modernisation of the IT platform, important steps will be taken in 2008 towards achieving that goal.

The rapidly growing markets for trading in derivatives and structured products should accelerate SFMS's pace of growth. To that purpose, the Eurex and Scoach joint ventures - in collaboration with Deutsche Börse AG as partner - are to be expanded further in the Derivatives Markets division.

The consolidation process with which the international financial markets are confronted at present as a result of fierce competition and increasing deregulation also offers SFMS numerous opportunities. The Securities Services, Multipay and Cards & Payments divisions will internationalise their business activities even further, with the goal of achieving a marked increase in transaction volume and the resulting economies of scale that will accrue to the benefit of financial centre participants in Switzerland.

In the Financial Information division, keen focus is being placed on Telekurs' 2007 acquisition of Fininfo in France. This step has enabled the division to strengthen its market position in Europe significantly and has established the conditions for expanding its range of global financial data services.

Building up the businesses of the various divisions makes it possible to increase the value of SFMS to the benefit of its owners, in keeping with the goals formulated within the framework of the merger discussions. Moreover, the composition of the business portfolio enables SFMS to support its revenues on numerous pillars. Thus from a Group-level vantage point, an efficient diversification of risks will be achieved which, given the rapidly changing market environment, works in favour of the company's long-term development. By the same token, the holding structure facilitates the leveraging of financial means and thereby substantially increasing the acquisition clout of SFMS.

Retrospective on an exciting 100 days

Urs Rüegsegger, who has held the post of Group CEO for 100 days now, takes a very positive view of the progress achieved in the past several months: "The commencement of operations at SFMS has functioned without problem, and the projects of central importance to the integration process are running according to plan. Among them are projects aimed at harmonising our technological infrastructure, determining the new accounting standards for the company, broadening our financial management instruments, and aligning the entire Group's employment conditions."

Confident view of the future

In the words of Peter Gomez, Chairman of the Board: "Thanks to the outstanding market position of its divisions, SFMS feels that it is well equipped for the future. Movements in the financial markets and the increasing internationalisation of the business activities of SFMS's customers open up new opportunities". Given the sound financial condition of the Group, those chances should be resolutely exploited to the advantage of the Swiss financial centre and its participants.

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