UBS AG

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Posted by r2d2 05/04/2009 @ 06:13

Tags : ubs ag, banking, finance

News headlines
Sakwa Leaves Bank of America; Lender Hires UBS Team - Bloomberg
By Brian Louis May 19 (Bloomberg) -- Steve Sakwa, the top-rated analyst of US real estate investment trusts, left Bank of America Corp. and the lender hired five analysts from UBS AG. Sakwa left for a job at New York-based research and brokerage firm...
Deutsche Bank Hires Ex-UBS Banker as Asia-Pacific CEO - Bloomberg
By Cathy Chan May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Bank AG hired Robert Rankin, former head of investment banking for Asia-Pacific at UBS AG, as chief executive officer for the region excluding Japan. Rankin, 45, will start June 10 and replace Colin Grassie,...
Continental, MAN, Metro, Volkswagen: German Equity Preview - Bloomberg
Separately, the company hired Robert Rankin, former head of investment banking for Asia-Pacific at UBS AG, as chief executive officer for the region excluding Japan. The shares rose 2.74 euros, or 6.4 percent, to 45.79. MAN AG (MAN GY): Europe's...
Emerging-Market Stocks Gain for 4th Day on $62 Oil; Tata Soars - Bloomberg
India's stocks, which climbed a record 17 percent on May 18, may keep rising as the election victory of the ruling Congress party improves the outlook for investor sentiment and economic growth, UBS AG said. Russia's Micex Index soared 5.1 percent to...
US IRS says focus on wealthy individuals, companies - guardian.co.uk
The US government is now suing UBS AG to retrieve thousands of names of American clients who stashed money in secret accounts. The Swiss banking giant settled with the Department of Justice in February to avoid criminal charges after agreeing to pay a...
India 'Euphoria' to Lift Share Prices, Valuations, UBS Says - Bloomberg
By Chen Shiyin May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Indian stock valuations may keep “bubbling higher” after a record gain earlier this week as the nation's election results improves the outlook for investor sentiment, liquidity and economic growth, UBS AG said....
UBS Pactual's Ex-Partners to Receive Esteves BTG Offer Soon - Bloomberg
By Flavia Bohone May 18 (Bloomberg) -- Andre Esteves's BTG Investments, which agreed to purchase UBS AG's Brazilian operations last month, may soon make an offer to pay debt owed to the unit's former partners, an investor said. “BTG bought UBS Pactual...
UBS Oper Chief: Measures Will Bolster Profitability - Memo - Wall Street Journal
ZURICH (Dow Jones)--A memorandum from UBS AG (UBS) Chief Operating Officer Ulrich Koerner said measures to share services inside the bank will improve efficiency and ultimately bolster profitability. The undated memorandum, which details the recently...
European bank UBS AG posts loss but shares rise - MiamiHerald.com
UBS AG, the European bank with the biggest writedowns from the financial crisis, posted a first-quarter loss and said capital grew more rapidly than the company estimated, boosting its shares. UBS shares rose in Swiss trading after saying the sale of...
Gold, Little Changed in Asia, May Advance on Inflation Concern - Bloomberg
Nine gold exchange-traded funds now hold 52.59 million ounces, or 0.24 million ounces below the record 52.83 million recorded April 15, UBS AG said in a report. Gold holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest exchange-traded fund backed by bullion,...

UBS AG

UBS Logo.svg

UBS AG (NYSE: UBS; SWX: UBSN; TYO: 8657) is a diversified global financial services company, with its main headquarters in Basel and Zürich, Switzerland. It is the world's largest manager of private wealth assets, "the world's biggest manager of other people's money" and is also the second-largest bank in Europe, by both market capitalisation and profitability. UBS has a major presence in the United States, with its American headquarters located in New York City (Investment banking); Weehawken, New Jersey (Private Wealth Management); and Stamford, Connecticut (Capital markets). UBS's retail offices are located throughout the U.S., and in over 50 other countries. UBS is an abbreviation, which originated from a predecessor firm, for the Union Bank of Switzerland; however, UBS ceased to be considered a representational abbreviation after its 1998 merger with Swiss Bank Corporation. The AG in the company's name means Aktiengesellschaft, which is the equivalent to a shareholder-based corporation in the U.S.

UBS's global business groups are private banking, investment banking, and asset management. Additionally, UBS is one of the leading providers of retail banking and commercial banking services in Switzerland. Overall invested assets are 3.265 trillion Swiss francs (CHF), shareholders' equity is 47.850 billion CHF and market capitalization is 151.203 billion CHF by the end of 2Q 2007.

In 2007, after incurring huge losses, UBS was forced to turn to the Government of Singapore for fresh funding. Since then, the largest shareholder of UBS is Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. In November 2008, following further dramatic losses, UBS managers pledged to return bonuses. UBS shareholders voted to accept financial aid from the Swiss government, to restore the shaken trust in UBS.

In some ways, UBS has evolved on a similar path to its cross-town rival Credit Suisse. Both are Swiss commercial and retail banks which bought major U.S. investment banks and both are currently investigated by U.S. authorities for allegedly helping 17,000 American citizens to evade taxes. In an unprecedented move on 18 February 2009, UBS, based on an order by the Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority (FINMA), has agreed to immediately provide the United States government with the identities of, and account information for, about 250 American clients and to pay US$780 million in fines and restitution.

UBS has its roots as a Swiss bank, originating in 1747, when its first branch was established in the Swiss region of Val Poschiavo. However, the three core components of the company date back to the second half of the nineteenth century. Union Bank of Switzerland, Swiss Bank Corporation, and Paine Webber or their antecedents, were all founded in the 1860s and 1870s.

Modern UBS was formed through a merger of the Union Bank of Switzerland and the Swiss Bank Corporation in June 1998. Although the merged company's new name was originally supposed to be the "United Bank of Switzerland," officials opted to call it simply "UBS" because of a name clash with United Bank Switzerland - a part of the United Bank Limited's Swiss subsidiary.

SBC had previously built a global investment banking business through its acquisitions of Dillon Read in New York and S.G. Warburg in London. The first chairman of the merged bank had to step down in October 1998 due to the Long-Term Capital Management crisis, which affected the Union Bank of Switzerland. In 2000, UBS acquired PaineWebber Group Inc. to become the world's largest wealth management firm for private clients. Invested assets in all wealth management businesses, including the U.S., total CHF 3.265 trillion.

On 9 June 2003, all UBS business groups rebranded under the UBS name as the company began operating as one large firm. UBS Paine Webber, UBS Warburg, UBS Asset Management, and others became simply "UBS". As a result of the rebranding, UBS took a $1B writedown for the loss of goodwill associated with the retirement of the Paine Webber brand. UBS is no longer an acronym but is the company's brand, like 3M. Its logo of three keys, carried over from SBC, stands for confidence, security, and discretion.

Swiss bank UBS AG reported on 1 April 2008, that it expected to post net losses of 12 billion Swiss francs (US$12.1 billion) for the first quarter of 2008 and would seek 15 billion Swiss francs (US$15.1 billion) in new capital. UBS, hard hit by the U.S. Subprime mortgage crisis, also said it sees losses and writedowns of approximately US$19 billion on U.S. real estate and related credit positions. In April 2008 UBS's long term credit ratings were cut to AA- by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's, and Aa1 by Moody's.

On 16 October 2008, UBS announced they had CHF 6 billion of new capital through mandatory convertible notes, fully placed with Swiss Confederation. The SNB (Swiss National Bank) and UBS made an agreement to transfer approximately USD 60 billion of currently illiquid securities and various assets from UBS to a separate fund entity.

On 4 November UBS announced that their third quarter Group net profit was in line with their 16 October pre announcement, with net profit attributable to UBS shareholders standing at CHF 296 million.

This quarter was affected by a further CHF 4.8 billon of write-downs and losses on risk positions, gain on own credit of CHF 2.2m and a tax credit of over CHF 900m.

UBS announced on 12 November 2008 that from 2009 no more than one-third of any cash bonus would be paid out in the year it is earned with the rest held in reserve. Share incentives would also vest after three years, and top executives would have to hold 75% of any vested shares, with share bonus accounts subject to “malus” charges.

It was also confirmed UBS chairman Peter Kurer would no longer have any extra variable compensation – just a cash salary and a fixed allotment of shares, which cannot be sold for four years. This aligned the chairman’s rewards with group performance while minimising risk. UBS also said that Kurer hoped that others would follow his lead. It was possible that regulators and influential groups such as the Financial Stability Forum would help his cause.

In November 2008, UBS put $6 billion of equity into the new “bad bank” entity, keeping only an option to benefit if the value of its assets were to recover. Heralded as a “neat” package by the NY Times, the UBS structure guaranteed clarity for UBS investors by making an outright sale.

On Friday, 30 January 2009, SNB Chairman Jean-Pierre Roth, the head of the Swiss National Bank, was quoted on Reuters as saying that UBS and Credit Suisse are the two best capitalised banks in the world.

On Monday, 9 February 2009, UBS announced that it lost nearly 20 billion Swiss francs (US$17.2 billion) in 2008, the biggest single-year loss in the history of Switzerland.

On Tuesday, 10 February 2009, UBS confirmed the Board of Directors and the Group Executive Board's commitment to each of the UBS business divisions and strategy. Despite difficult market conditions, it was stated that UBS has made substantial progress in adjusting its operations and has prepared itself for the new market environment, with a "substantial reduction" in risk positions during the fourth quarter.

UBS is resolving investigations relating to its US cross-border business by entering into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the US Department of Justice and a Consent Order with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Of the $780 million that UBS will pay, $380 million represents disgorgement of profits from its cross-border business. The remainder represents United States taxes that UBS failed to withhold on the accounts. The figures include interest, penalties and restitution for unpaid taxes. As part of the deal, UBS also entered into a consent order with the Securities and Exchange Commission in which it agreed to charges of having acted as an unregistered broker-dealer and investment adviser for Americans.

On March 11, 2009 UBS AG posted a revised FY 2008 reported 20.9 billion CHF ($18 billion) loss.It was reported UBS was “extremely cautious” about the outlook for 2009.

At the Annual General Meeting on April 15th 2009, UBS announced it was planning to cut 8,700 jobs on its return to profitability. Due to the global financial crisis, UBS has had to make about $50bn in write-downs and announce 11,000 job cuts since 2007.

On April 21, UBS announced that it has agreed to sell its Brazilian financial services business, UBS Pactual, for approximately USD 2.5 billion to BTG Investments. The sale of the Brazilian business is in line with UBS’s other measures aiming to reduce its risk profile and to become more profitable.

On Monday April 27, the head of the investment bank division Jerker Johansson resigned with immediate effect. He was replaced by Alexander Wilmot-Sitwell and Carsten Kengeter as Co-CEOs of the investment bank branch.

UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide, with offices in 50 countries. According to the UBS website, the bank had 81,557 employees on 30 June 2007. The 2007 Q2 report breaks these Financial Business permanent staff down by region as: 27,315 in Switzerland, 31,933 in the Americas, 13,355 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA / not including Switzerland), and 8,954 in Asia and Australasia (APAC).

UBS is organized in four business groups: Global Wealth Management & Business Banking, Investment Bank, Global Asset Management, and Corporate Center.

One of the more unusual businesses operated by UBS AG is the UBS Polybahn, a funicular railway in Zürich, Switzerland. The group's ownership of this line dates back to 1976, when the Union Bank of Switzerland rescued the then-failing funicular company.

Chairman Marcel Ospel did not seek re-election at the 23 April 2008, annual general assembly of shareholders and was succeeded by Peter Kurer, who was general counsel, the bank said, in a statement on 1 April 2008. On 26 February 2009, Marcel Rohner resigned and was succeeded by Oswald Grübel. On 4 March 2009, UBS announced that chairman Peter Kurer would be succeeded by Kaspar Villiger in April.

On 1 April 2009, the CEO of the UBS group Oswald Grübel hired Ulrich Körner, in a newly established role as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and CEO of Corporate Center. Körner's task will be to cut administrative expenses and boost profits.

Main competitors are Deutsche Bank, Fortis, Citi, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Banc of America Securities LLC, Goldman Sachs, Dresdner Kleinwort, Julius Baer, Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan Chase.

UBS was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers living in the U.S. in 2006 for the fourth consecutive year by U.S. based Working Mother magazine. It is a member of the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme and has active Gay and Lesbian, ethnic minority, and women's networking groups. UBS was included on Business Week's The Best Places to Launch a Career 2008, and ranked #96 out of the 119 total companies listed.

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Marcel Rohner (UBS AG)

Marcel Rohner (born March 8, 1962) is a Swiss businessman. He was Group Chief Executive Officer (Group CEO) at UBS AG from July 6, 2007 until 26 February 2009, and on the Group Executive Board from October 2007 until his resignation. .

Rohner graduated with a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Zurich and was a research and teaching assistant at the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics at the University of Zurich from 1990 to 1992.

Between 1993 and 1998, Rohner was with Swiss Bank Corporation’s Investment Banking branch, where in 1995 he was appointed Head of Market Risk Control Europe.

In 1998, he worked as Head of Market Risk Control of Warburg Dillon Read. In 1999, he was promoted to Group Chief Risk Officer.

In 2001 he became Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CEO of the Private Banking Unit of UBS Switzerland. Between 2002 and 2007 he was CEO of Wealth Management & Business Banking, and additionally named Chairman in 2004. Rohner was appointed Deputy Group CEO in January 2006.

On February 26, 2009, it was announced that Marcel Rohner had resigned from UBS AG. He was succeeded by Oswald Grübel as the new CEO.

He has married twice, and has a son.

Rohner is Vice Chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association in Basel, and the Vice Chairman of The Board of Trustees of The Swiss Finance Institute.

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Investment banking

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An investment bank is a financial institution that raises capital, trades in securities and manages corporate mergers and acquisitions. Investment banks profit from companies and governments by raising money through issuing and selling securities in the capital markets (both equity, bond) and insuring bonds (selling credit default swaps), as well as providing advice on transactions such as mergers and acquisitions. To perform these services in the United States, an adviser must be a licensed broker-dealer, and is subject to SEC (FINRA) regulation see SEC. Until the late 1980s, the United States maintained a separation between investment banking and commercial banks. Other developed countries (including G7 countries) have not maintained this separation historically. A majority of investment banks offer strategic advisory services for mergers, acquisitions, divestiture or other financial services for clients, such as the trading of derivatives, fixed income, foreign exchange, commodity, and equity securities.

Trading securities for cash or securities (i.e., facilitating transactions, market-making), or the promotion of securities (i.e., underwriting, research, etc.) was referred to as the "sell side".

Dealing with the pension funds, mutual funds, hedge funds, and the investing public who consumed the products and services of the sell-side in order to maximize their return on investment constitutes the "buy side". Many firms have buy and sell side components.

The last two major bulge bracket firms on Wall Street were Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley until both banks elected to convert to traditional banking institutions on September 22, 2008, as part of a response to the U.S. financial crisis. Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Banco Santander, BBVA and UBS AG are "universal banks" rather than bulge-bracket investment banks, since they also accept deposits (though not all of them have U.S. branches).

On behalf of the bank and its clients, the primary function of the bank is buying and selling products. Banks undertake risk through proprietary trading, done by a special set of traders who do not interface with clients and through "principal risk", risk undertaken by a trader after he buys or sells a product to a client and does not hedge his total exposure. Banks seek to maximize profitability for a given amount of risk on their balance sheet. An investment bank is split into the so-called front office, middle office, and back office.

An investment bank can also be split into private and public functions with a Chinese wall which separates the two to prevent information from crossing. The private areas of the bank deal with private insider information that may not be publicly disclosed, while the public areas such as stock analysis deal with public information.

Global investment banking revenue increased for the fifth year running in 2007, to $84.3 billion. This was up 21% on the previous year and more than double the level in 2003. Despite a record year for fee income, many investment banks have experienced large losses related to their exposure to U.S. sub-prime securities investments.

The United States was the primary source of investment banking income in 2007, with 53% of the total, a proportion which has fallen somewhat during the past decade. Europe (with Middle East and Africa) generated 32% of the total, slightly up on its 30% share a decade ago.Asian countries generated the remaining 15%. Over the past decade, fee income from the US increased by 80%. This compares with a 217% increase in Europe and 250% increase in Asia during this period. The industry is heavily concentrated in a small number of major financial centres, including New York City, London and Tokyo.

Investment banking is one of the most global industries and is hence continuously challenged to respond to new developments and innovation in the global financial markets. Throughout the history of investment banking, it is only known that many have theorized that all investment banking products and services would be commoditized. New products with higher margins are constantly invented and manufactured by bankers in hopes of winning over clients and developing trading know-how in new markets. However, since these can usually not be patented or copyrighted, they are very often copied quickly by competing banks, pushing down trading margins.

For example, trading bonds and equities for customers is now a commodity business, but structuring and trading derivatives retains higher margins in good times - and the risk of large losses in difficult market conditions, such as the credit crunch that began in 2007. Each over-the-counter contract has to be uniquely structured and could involve complex pay-off and risk profiles. Listed option contracts are traded through major exchanges, such as the CBOE, and are almost as commoditized as general equity securities.

In addition, while many products have been commoditized, an increasing amount of profit within investment banks has come from proprietary trading, where size creates a positive network benefit (since the more trades an investment bank does, the more it knows about the market flow, allowing it to theoretically make better trades and pass on better guidance to clients).

The fastest growing segment of the investment banking industry are private investments into public companies (PIPEs, otherwise known as Regulation D or Regulation S). Such transactions are privately negotiated between companies and accredited investors. These PIPE transactions are non-rule 144A transactions. Large bulge bracket brokerage firms and smaller boutique firms compete in this sector. Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) or blank check corporations have been created from this industry.

In the U.S., the Glass-Steagall Act, initially created in the wake of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, prohibited banks from both accepting deposits and underwriting securities which led to segregation of investment banks from commercial banks. Glass-Steagall was effectively repealed for many large financial institutions by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999.

Another development in recent years has been the vertical integration of debt securitization. Previously, investment banks had assisted lenders in raising more lending funds and having the ability to offer longer term fixed interest rates by converting the lenders' outstanding loans into bonds. For example, a mortgage lender would make a house loan, and then use the investment bank to sell bonds to fund the debt, the money from the sale of the bonds can be used to make new loans, while the lender accepts loan payments and passes the payments on to the bondholders. This process is called securitization. However, lenders have begun to securitize loans themselves, especially in the areas of mortgage loans. Because of this, and because of the fear that this will continue, many investment banks have focused on becoming lenders themselves, making loans with the goal of securitizing them. In fact, in the areas of commercial mortgages, many investment banks lend at loss leader interest rates in order to make money securitizing the loans, causing them to be a very popular financing option for commercial property investors and developers. Securitized house loans may have exacerbated the subprime mortgage crisis beginning in 2007, by making risky loans less apparent to investors.

Potential conflicts of interest may arise between different parts of a bank, creating the potential for financial movements that could be market manipulation. Authorities that regulate investment banking (the FSA in the United Kingdom and the SEC in the United States) require that banks impose a Chinese wall which prohibits communication between investment banking on one side and equity research and trading on the other.

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Basel

Basel - Rhine in Basel

Basel (/ˈbɑːzəl/, also Basle, German: Basel /ˈbaːzəl/, French: Bâle /bal/ or /bɑl/, Italian: Basilea /bazi'lɛːa/, Romansh: Basilea /bazi'lɛːa/) is Switzerland's third most populous city (166,209 inhabitants (2008)). With 731,000 inhabitants in the tri-national metropolitan area (as of 2004), Basel is Switzerland's third-largest urban area.

Located in northwest Switzerland on the river Rhine, Basel functions as a major industrial centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. The city borders both Germany and France. The Basel region, culturally extending into German Baden-Württemberg and French Alsace, reflects the heritage of its three states in the modern Latin name: "Regio TriRhena". It has the oldest university of the Swiss Confederation (1460).

Basel is German-speaking. The local variant of the Swiss German dialects is called Basel German.

During the days of the Roman Empire, the settlement of Augusta Raurica was founded 10 or 20 kilometres upstream of present Basel, and a castle was built on the hill overlooking the river where the Basel Münster now stands. But even older Celtic settlements (including a vitrified fort) have been discovered recently in the area predating the Roman castle. The city's position on the Rhine long emphasised its importance: Basel for many centuries possessed the only bridge over the river "between Lake Constance and the sea".

The town of Basel was called "Basilia" in Latin, and this name is documented from the year 374 AD. Since the donation of the Abbey Moutier-Grandvalto and all its possessions to Bishop Adalbero II in 999 till the Reformation, Basel was ruled by prince-bishops (see Bishop of Basel, whose memory is preserved in the crosier shown on the Basel coat-of-arms - see above). In 1019 the construction of the cathedral of Basel (known locally as the Münster) began under German Emperor Heinrich II. In 1225–1226 the Bridge over the Rhine was constructed by Bishop Heinrich von Thun and lesser Basel (Kleinbasel) founded as a beachhead to protect the bridge.

In 1356 the Basel earthquake destroyed much of the city along with a number of castles in the vicinity. The city offered courts to nobles as an alternative to rebuilding their castles, in exchange for the nobles' military protection of the city.

In 1412 (or earlier) the well-known guesthouse Zum Goldenen Sternen was established. Basel became the focal point of western Christendom during the 15th century Council of Basel (1431 –1449), including the 1439 AD election of antipope Felix V. In 1459 Pope Pius II endowed the University of Basel where such notables as Erasmus of Rotterdam and Paracelsus later taught. At the same time the new craft of printing was introduced to Basel by apprentices of Johann Gutenberg.

The Schwabe publishing house was founded 1488 by Johannes Petri and is the oldest publishing house still in business. Johann Froben also operated his printing house in Basel and was notable for publishing works by Erasmus. In 1495, Basel was incorporated in the Upper Rhenish Imperial Circle, the bishop sitting on the Bench of the Ecclesiastical Princes. In 1500 the construction of the Basel Münster was finished. In 1501 Basel de facto separated from the Holy Roman Empire and joined the Swiss Confederation as 11th canton, and began the construction of the city council building. The bishop continued to reside in Basel until the reformation of Oecolampadius in 1529. The bishop's crook was however retained as the city's coat of arms. In March 1536 the first edition of Christianae religionis institutio (Institutes of the Christian Religion) was published in Latin by John Calvin at Basel. There are indications Joachim Meyer, an influential 16th century author of a book on fighting (kunst des Fechten) came from Basel.

Intended as a defence of Huguenots then persecuted in France, Calvin's Institutes was an exposition of Protestant Christian doctrine which later became known as Calvinism. In 1543 De humani corporis fabrica, the first anatomy book was published and printed in Basel by Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564). In 1662 the Amerbaschsches Kabinett formed the basis of a collection and exposition, forming the core of the Basel Museum of Art.

Throughout history, Basel has seen the conclusion of numerous accords. In 1499 Treaty of Basel was signed, ending the Swabian War, and two years later Basel joined the Swiss Confederation. In 1795, two separate peace treaties between the revolutionary French Republic on the one hand and Prussia and Spain on the other brought about the collapse of the First Coalition and the cessation of fighting in the French Revolutionary Wars. In more recent times, on September 3, 1897, the World Zionist Organization held its first congress in Basel under the leadership of Theodor Herzl; this Jewish umbrella organization would later play an instrumental role in the creation of the state of Israel. Because of the Balkan Wars the Second International held an extraordinary congress at Basel in 1912. In 1989, the Basel Convention was opened for signature with the aim of preventing the export of hazardous waste from wealthy to developing nations for disposal.

The first-class location and the transportation infrastructure make Basel the top logistics center for Switzerland. Basel’s airport is set up for airfreight; heavy goods reach the city and the heart of continental Europe from the North Sea by ship along the Rhine. The main European routes for the highway and railway transportation of freight cross in Basel. The outstanding location benefits logistics corporations, which operate globally from Basel. Trading firms are traditionally well represented in the Basel Region.

Basel has Switzerland's only cargo port, through which goods pass along the navigable stretches of the Rhine and connect to ocean-going ships at the port of Rotterdam.

EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg is operated jointly by two countries, France and Switzerland. Contrary to popular belief, the airport is located completely on French soil. The airport itself is split into two architecturally independent sectors, one half serving the French side and the other half serving the Swiss side; there is a customs point at the middle of the airport so that people can "emigrate" to the other side of the airport.

Basel has long held an important place as a rail hub. Three railway stations — those of the German, French and Swiss networks — lie within the city (although the Swiss (Basel SBB) and French (Bâle SNCF) stations are actually in the same complex, separated by Customs and Immigration facilities). Basel Badischer Bahnhof is on the opposite side of the city. The largest goods railway complex of the country is located just outside the city, spanning the municipalities of Muttenz and Pratteln. The new highspeed ICE railway line from Karlsruhe to Basel will be completed in 2008 while phase I of the TGV-Est line, opened in June 2007, has reduced travel time from Basel to Paris to 3 1/2 hours.

A somewhat anachronistic yet still widely used system of ferry boats links the two shores. There are four ferries, each situated approximately midway between two bridges. Each is attached by a cable to a block that rides along another cable spanning the river at a height of 20 or 30 metres. To cross the river, the ferryman orients the boat around 45° from the current so that the current pushes the boat across the river. This form of transportation is therefore completely hydraulically driven, requiring no outside energy source.

Basel has an extensive public transportation network serving the city and connecting to surrounding suburbs. The green-colored local trams and buses are operated by the BVB (Basler Verkehrs-Betriebe). The yellow-colored buses and trams are operated by the BLT Baselland Transport, and connect areas in the nearby half-canton of Baselland to central Basel. The trams are powered by overhead lines, and the bus fleet is mix of electric and conventional fuel-powered vehicles. The BVB also shares commuter bus lines in cooperation with transit authorities in the neighboring Alsace region in France and Baden region in Germany. The Regio-S-Bahn Basel, the commuter rail network connecting to suburbs surrounding the city, is jointly operated by SBB, SNCF and DB.

Basel is located at the meeting point of France, Germany and Switzerland and has numerous road and rail crossings between Switzerland and the other two countries. With Switzerland joining the Schengen area on December 12, 2008, immigration checks were no longer carried out at the crossings. However, Switzerland did not join the EU customs regime and customs checks are still conducted at or near the crossings.

An annual Federal Swiss trade fair (Mustermesse) takes place in Kleinbasel on the right bank of the Rhine. Other important trade shows include "BaselWorld" (watches and jewelry), Art Basel, Orbit and Cultura.

The Swiss chemical industry operates largely from Basel, with Novartis, Syngenta, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Clariant, and Hoffmann-La Roche headquartered there. Pharmaceuticals and specialty chemicals have become the modern focus of the city's industrial production. Some of the chemical industry's most notable creations include DDT, Araldite, Valium, Rohypnol and LSD.

UBS AG maintains central offices in Basel, giving finance a pivotal role in the local economy. The importance of banking began when the Bank for International Settlements located within the city in 1930. Basel's innovative financial industry includes institutions like the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Responsible for the Basel Accords (Basel I and Basel II) , this organization fundamentally changed Risk Management within its industry.

Basel has Switzerland's tallest building, Basler Messeturm.

Basel also houses The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and is the central banker’s bank. The bank is controlled by a board of directors, which is comprised of the elite central bankers of 11 different countries (U.S., UK, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden).

Created in 1930, the BIS is owned by its member central banks, which are private entities. No agent of the Swiss public authorities may enter the premises without the express consent of the bank. The bank exercises supervision and police power over its premises. The bank enjoys immunity from criminal and administrative jurisdiction as well as sets recommendations which become standard for the worlds commercial banking system.

Basel is subdivided into 19 quarters (Quartiere). The municipalities of Riehen and Bettingen, outside the city limits of Basel, are included in the canton of Basel-City as rural quarters (Landquartiere).

The red sandstone Münster, one of the foremost late-Romanesque/early Gothic buildings in the Upper Rhine, was badly damaged in the great earthquake of 1356, rebuilt in the fourteenth and fifteenth century, extensively reconstructed in the mid-nineteenth century and further restored in the late twentieth century. A memorial to Erasmus lies inside the Münster.

Basel is also host to an array of buildings by internationally renowned architects, such as the Beyeler Foundation by Renzo Piano, or the Vitra complex in nearby Weil am Rhein, composed of buildings by architects such as Zaha Hadid (fire station), Frank Gehry (design museum), Alvaro Siza Vieira (factory building) and Tadao Ando (conference centre). Basel also features buildings by Mario Botta (Jean Tinguely Museum and Bank of International settlements) and Herzog & de Meuron (whose architectural practice is in Basel, and who are best known as the architects of Tate Modern in London). The city received the Wakker Prize in 1996.

Basel hosts Switzerland's oldest university, the University of Basel, dating from 1459. Erasmus, Paracelsus, Daniel Bernoulli, Leonhard Euler, Jacob Burckhardt, and Friedrich Nietzsche worked here. More recently, its work in tropical medicine has gained prominence.

Basel is renowned for various scientific societies, as the Entomological Society of Basel (Entomologische Gesellschaft Basel, EGB), which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005.

Basel counts several International Schools, including the International School of Basel, the Minerva School and the Rhine Academy.

Geo-politically, the city of Basel functions as the capital of the Swiss half-canton of Basel-Stadt, though several of its suburbs form part of the half-canton of Basel-Landschaft or of the canton of Aargau (or of France or Germany).

Basel is at the forefront of a national vision to more than halve energy use in Switzerland by the year 2050. In order to research, develop and commercialise the technologies and techniques required for the country to become a '2000 Watt society', a number of projects have been set up since 2001 in the Basel metropolitan area. These including demonstration buildings constructed to MINERGIE or Passivhaus standards, electricity generation from renewable energy sources (including a hot dry rock geothermal energy project which caused significant tremors), and vehicles using natural gas, hydrogen and biogas.

Basel has a reputation in Switzerland as a successful sporting city. The football club FC Basel continues to be successful and in recognition of this the city was one of the Swiss venues for the 2008 European Championships, as well as Geneva, Zürich and Berne. The championships were jointly hosted by Switzerland and Austria. Concordia Basel and BSC Old Boys are the other football teams in Basel.

Basel features a large football stadium, a modern ice hockey hall and an admitted sports hall.

A large indoor tennis event takes place in Basel every October. Some of the best ATP-Professionals play every year at the Swiss Indoors, including Switzerland's biggest sporting hero and frequent participant Roger Federer, who is also from the city of Basel originally and he describes it as "one of the most beautiful cities in the world".

Basel has a reputation as one of the most important cultural cities in Europe. In 1997, it contended to become the "European Capital of Culture". In May 2004, the fifth European Festival of Youth Choirs (Europäisches Jugendchorfestival, or EJCF) choir festival opened: this Basel tradition started in 1992. Host of this festival is the local Basel Boys Choir.

The carnival of the city of Basel (Basler Fasnacht) is a major cultural event in the year. The carnival is the biggest in Switzerland and attracts large crowds every year, despite the fact that it starts at four in the morning (Morgestraich) and lasts for exactly 72 hours, taking in various parades.

Basler Zeitung ("Baz") is the local newspaper.

Basel is host to the Basel Tattoo, started by the Top Secret Drum Corps.

The Basel museums cover a broad and diverse spectrum of collections with a marked concentration in the fine arts. They house numerous holdings of international significance. The over three dozen institutions yield an extraordinarily high density of museums compared to other cities of similar size and draw over one million visitors annually.

Constituting an essential component of Basel culture and cultural policy, the museums are the result of closely interwoven private and public collecting activities and promotion of arts and culture going back to the 16th century. The public museum collection was first created back in 1661 and represents the oldest public collection in continuous existence. Since the late 1980s, various private collections have been made accessible to the public in new purpose-built structures that have been recognized as acclaimed examples of avant-garde museum architecture.

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Source : Wikipedia