Burckhardt Adds to Swiss Workforce as Concern Over Franc Eases

Burckhardt Compression Holding AG (BCHN), a Swiss supplier to oil and gas companies, said it will keep expanding in its home market while concern about the strength of Switzerland’s franc is easing.

“We are not moving our manufacturing base away from Switzerland,” Chief Executive Officer Marcel Pawlicek said. “For us it’s important the franc stays where it is for a long time because then it’s more predictable and we can plan around it.”

Burckhardt has hired half of 100 new employees in the last few months at its Winterthur headquarters and plans to add at least 40 more in the next few months, Pawlicek said. Burckhardt employs 472 people in Winterthur in activities including design, manufacturing and sales, according to the company website. The company has 1,078 full time staff.

Pressure on the compressor-maker’s margins has abated since 2011, when the franc strengthened to near parity with the euro and Switzerland’s central bank imposed a cap of 1.20 francs per euro to defend exporters, he said. The franc has weakened 2.7 percent versus the euro this year.

Rieter Holding AG (RIEN), a Swiss maker of textile machinery which is also based in Winterthur, said March 21 it would cut employee numbers by 5 percent over 24 months, mostly in Switzerland, to save on fixed costs as it focuses on Asian clients.

Whole Package

“People compare the salary of people in Germany and people in Switzerland but it’s a bit one-sided,” Pawlicek said. “You have to compare tax issues, the level of education, the whole package.”

Burckhardt shares rose 0.1 percent in Zurich to 374.50 francs, bringing the gain to 25 percent this year. The 215-member Swiss Performance Index (SPI) gained 1 percent today.

Burckhardt revenue of 366.7 million francs ($388 million) for the year ended March 31 missed the 384.8 million-franc average estimate of six analysts compiled by Bloomberg as the seller of compressors to Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. had some sales projects shifted forward from 2012 to 2013, Pawlicek said

To contact the reporters on this story: Fiona Hostettler in Zurich at fhostettler@bloomberg.net; Patrick Winters in Zurich at pwinters3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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