Swiss Regional Bank Glarner Starts Trading After IPO

Glarner Kantonalbank, a Swiss regional bank looking to repay its 2008 bailout and raise funds to expand, started trading in Zurich after selling shares to the public for the first time.

The stock was unchanged today at 17.50 Swiss francs as of 12:37 p.m. in Zurich, after the bank sold 3.2 million shares. The bank is based in the town of Glarus southeast of Zurich.

“I am positively surprised that also big and important institutional investors were interested in our shares,” Chief Executive Officer Hanspeter Rhyner said by phone today.

Glarner Kantonalbank follows Bravofly Rumbo Group BV, Hiag Immobilien AG, Thurgauer Kantonalbank and SFS Group AG, which sold shares valued at 1.42 billion francs ($1.59 billion) in initial public offerings this year. In 2008, the canton, or regional government, of Glarus injected 20 million francs into the bank after efforts to expand its corporate business backfired.

“The growth strategy for the business with corporate clients was executed in an amateurish way,” Rhyner said, adding that he is pleased that the bank can return the money to the canton through the IPO after “such a short time.”

Glarner Kantonalbank also wants to use the proceeds to invest in growth and comply with regulatory requirements, Rhyner said. Two-thirds of the money from the IPO will go to the bank and one-third to Glarus, according to a statement yesterday. Regional banks including cantonal lenders of Geneva and Basel account for 11 of the 211 stocks in the Swiss Performance Index of Swiss companies traded in Zurich.

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