Swiss Billionaire Pieper Becomes Biggest Investor in AFG

Billionaire industrialist Michael Pieper has become the largest shareholder in AFG Arbonia-Forster Holding AG, the Swiss supplier of windows and doors said.

AFG announced Pieper’s holding today along with the company’s sale of an industrial coatings business to former Chairman Edgar Oehler, the previous largest shareholder. The stock gained as much as 19 percent in Zurich trading.

The deal comes after AFG made a loss in each of the last three years. Shares had declined 34 percent this year before today as the company suffers from rising imports that increase competition in its Swiss home market, which has high production costs due to the nation’s strong currency. The company also appointed former Geberit AG executive William J. Christensen as chief executive from November to lead a turnaround.

The deal “terminates the era of Edgar Oehler at AFG,” Christian Arnold, an analyst at Bank Vontobel AG in Zurich, said in a note to investors. Pieper is associated with “stability” and “this is needed for the challenging times ahead”.

Pieper adds the 21.89 percent stake in AFG to a portfolio of Swiss listed and private industrial companies. The 68-year-old owns Franke, a Swiss maker of kitchen equipment and coffee machines and was CEO of the group until 2012.

Through his Artemis holding company, Pieper is also the largest shareholder in Feintool International Holding AG and holds stakes in Swiss listed machinery-makers Forbo Holding AG, Rieter Holding AG, auto-industry supplier Autoneum Holding AG and Adval Tech Holding AG.

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