Exporters gain breathing space but investors could suffer losses

FROM banking giant UBS to watchmaker Swatch, Swiss exporters were the biggest winners from yesterday’s decisive central bank move to take on the currency speculators.

The 30 per cent appreciation in the franc against the euro since 2009 has decimated profits at companies such as Nestle and Roche that make the majority of their revenues globally.

Nestle estimated at its last results that the currency strength knocked 600-700m francs from its operating cash flow in the first half of this year, while in June Swatch chairwoman Nayla Hayek (pictured below) said the franc was “eating” Swiss businesses.

“The SNB is buying time for Swiss exporters, which have been absolutely hammered over the past two years,” said Jeremy Cook, chief economist at World First.

But the move to curb the currency may create losers in less likely quarters as investors such as hedge funds betting the currency would appreciate further could be left with paper losses.

Currency traders said there were already also signs that investors seeking a safe haven were moving to new targets, with elevated demand for the Norwegian krone and US dollars.

“Black box” computer hedge funds and managers who bet on global markets were likely among those hardest hit by the shock intervention.

Among computer funds that may have been hit is Man Group’s flagship $23.9bn AHL fund. An AHL fund manager said last month it had a small bet on the franc, though the fund declined to comment on its position yesterday.