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Federal Council nominates board of new RUAG holding company

Bern, 23.10.2019 – At its meeting on 23 October 2019, the Federal Council reached further decisions on the unbundling and development of the RUAG technology group. This included the nomination of board members for the new holding company. The majority of these board members are women and the board has the entire spectrum of knowledge and experience required to implement the complex unbundling process. The Federal Council also acknowledged the plan for the boards of the two subsidiaries (MRO Switzerland and RUAG International). In addition, it approved the strategic goals of the new holding company for the 2020-2023 period.

As part of the unbundling and development of the current RUAG Holding, a new holding company with two subsidiaries will be established on 1 January 2020. MRO Switzerland will be owned by the Swiss Confederation and provide security-related services to the DDPS (MRO: maintenance, repair and overhaul). It is planned to develop RUAG International into an aerospace group that will be privatised in the medium term. The two subsidiaries will be legally and financially independent from each other and their IT systems will be kept separate.

Majority of women on the board

The Federal Council will control the new holding company, as in the case of all companies with close ties to the Confederation, primarily by setting its strategic goals and appointing its board. The new holding company is responsible for implementing the agreed strategic goals for 2020-2023. These aim to meet the interests of the Confederation as the owner and sole shareholder and in particular take account of the DDPS’s security and armaments policy interests as the main client of MRO Switzerland, as well as the FDF’s financial policy interests.

The election of the board of the holding company will be carried out at the founders’ meeting in November. Monica Duca Widmer becomes the president. She was already nominated as president by the Federal Council on 14 June 2019, primarily because of her proven experience and knowledge of corporate governance matters. The board has two further female members in Monika Krüsi Schädle and Ariane Richter Merz. Monika Krüsi Schädle heads a consultancy firm. She holds several directorships in industrial and energy companies. Ariane Richter Merz is the CEO and president of a company that provides advisory services on legal and compliance matters.

The five-member board will be completed by the presidents of the boards of the two subsidiaries. They are Nicolas Perrin in the case of MRO Switzerland and Remo Lütolf in the case of RUAG International. Remo Lütolf is currently president of the board of the current RUAG Holding. He played a decisive role in drawing up the strategy for the further development of RUAG International and is now able to implement that strategy in his new position. Nicolas Perrin has worked for thirty years in various capacities for the SBB. Since 2008 he has been the head of SBB Cargo. He will stand down from this position when he takes up his post as president of the board of MRO Switzerland. It remains to be decided whether he will carry out any further mandates on behalf of the SBB. Due to professional commitments, Nicolas Perrin is unable to begin his duties as president of MRO Switzerland until 31 May 2019. Until this date, the board will be chaired by its vice-president, who is likely to be Heinz Liechti, currently the project manager at the DDPS responsible for the unbundling and further development of RUAG.

The Federal Council is convinced that the new board of the holding company has the entire spectrum of knowledge and experience required to implement the complex unbundling process.

The Federal Council has taken note of the planned composition of the boards of the two subsidiaries. They will be elected by the board of the holding company. In addition to the presidents of the respective boards, the board members of MRO Switzerland are Heinz Liechti, Nicolas Gremaud, Caroline Kuyper Leblond and Sibylle Minder Hochreutener; and in the case of RUAG International, they are Jürg Oleas, Marie-Pierre de Bailliencourt, Jürg Fedier, Laurent Sigismondi, Rainer G. Schulz and Jennifer P. Byrne.

The Federal Council also instructed the DDPS to appoint Ernst & Young as auditors to the holding company at the general meeting of the company. In addition to the standard audit, the auditors will also verify compliance with the principles of cost accounting, as required by the Confederation, in relation to the assignments carried out by MRO Switzerland on behalf of the Armed Forces.

Further action

The DDPS has also informed the Federal Council that the current RUAG Holding has submitted an initial implementation plan for the further development of RUAG International. This sets out the key milestones in the gradual build-up of the aerospace group and its privatisation. The key figures will be confirmed in the course of 2019 planning process. This will allow RUAG to add binding goals to the implementation plan, and to submit the final version of the plan to the Federal Council in the first quarter of 2020.

Swiss interests in aerospace policy are also important to the Federal Council in this project. It has therefore instructed the board of the new holding company to take measures to ensure that these interests are safeguarded in the privatisation process. The new company will look to promote Switzerland's interests in space projects and markets, based on the business opportunities available and in accordance with its strategic goals. It will seek to strengthen the company's position and support technological development in Europe. It will work with the EAER in pursuing these objectives.

Address for further inquiries

Lorenz Frischknecht
DDPS press officer
+41 58 484 26 17

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