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Banking

Ulrich Gygi, Director of federal administration of finance, Switzerland

Ulrich Gygi is the driving force behind Swiss privatization. He was the chief architect of the Swisscom offering, Europe's biggest initial public offering (IPO) last year, which succeeded when most other deals were being pulled. As head of the Swiss treasury, where he's spent most of his career, Gygi has also had the task of deciding how much gold the central bank can afford to give away to good causes in the aftermath of the Nazi gold controversy. He is thought to have designs on the top job at the central bank.

A relaxed, amusing character, Gygi says he's convinced that the decision to press ahead with Swisscom was the right one, despite the "shivers" in the stock market. "Of course there was some doubt," he remembers. "Our adviser Goldman Sachs postponed its float. But we couldn't postpone ours. We'd started in 1997 and were working to a tight timescale. October 5 as the first trading day was fixed more than a year before. If we'd postponed it we'd have had to wait for at least a year and it would have been disastrous for the company - what makes the company work is the pressure from the market.

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