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Swiss deregulate to win Eurobond listings

The Swiss stock exchange hopes to steal business from rivals in EU countries by offering favourable listing rules.

The Swiss Exchange (SWX) is planning to change its listing rules to attract issuers that are unhappy with the increased compliance costs associated with the EU’s recently passed prospectus and transparency directives.

SWX will introduce changes over the next four months, removing a requirement that debt securities listed in Switzerland be governed by Swiss law and clearing the way for issuers to publish statements under most local accounting standards, including Japanese and US rules.

SWX plans to create a fast-track system for transferring EU-listed securities to Switzerland without new prospectuses having to be issued. The exchange will also allow issuers to list MTN programmes in Switzerland and will remove a requirement to use a Swiss paying agent on deals.

SWX is already circulating the draft listing rules to Swiss market participants. It hopes to attract issuers that are keen to avoid the more cumbersome requirements contained in the new EU directives, which are set to come into effect in 2005.

The 40-year-old Eurobond market enjoys exemptions from many disclosure requirements on the grounds that the bonds are sold only to professional and institutional investors. But the new prospectus directive, which is aimed at creating a pan-EU securities market by allowing issuers to sell securities into any EU country once the regulator of one member state has approved the prospectus, will change that.

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