Corporates shift to Switzerland



Tax regimes and robust business infrastructure prompt relocation trend, particularly in banking, finance and pharmaceutical sectors

London, 4 March 2010 – CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) has seen an increased interest from corporate clients considering relocating office-based functions to Switzerland from major U.S. and European markets, including the United Kingdom. Active corporate occupiers of commercial real estate, particularly in the banking and finance, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors, are trending towards Switzerland as a base for functions initially including senior management, support and back-office.

A combination of individually negotiable and favorable tax rates, access to an international and highly skilled workforce, good living standards and a robust transport infrastructure are thought to be primary reasons for the pull, despite rising property prices and low supply levels across the country.

John Wilson, Executive Director of Global Corporate Services, CBRE said: "The last few months have seen a major increase in activity across our client base of corporates looking at Switzerland for relocation purposes, particularly in the banking and finance sector, where commodities traders, investment banks, financial insurers, asset managers and hedge funds have expressed interest. Theres also been increased demand from the healthcare, biotechnical and pharmaceutical sectors.”

Consideration of the increasing burden of personal and corporate tax in many EU countries has in several cases acted as the trigger for clients to examine locations across the 26 individual Cantons in Switzerlands Federal framework. Each Canton has its own differentiation in terms of autonomy, constitution, law and, perhaps most significantly, control over non-federal layers of taxation. The skilled Swiss workforce, with specialist talents and training across the financial, pharmaceutical, biotechnical and public sectors, coupled with the English language availability, has put Switzerland to the fore as an international relocation destination. In addition, as a non-EU country Switzerland is able to grant incentives and support attractive industry sectors without any restrictions on state aid.

Nick Compton, a specialist in the Life Sciences Sector commented: “Switzerland is home to two of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies, Roche and Novartis, and most of the remaining top 10 already have a significant presence in the country. Switzerlands well established reputation for innovation and its desire to increase employment in the sector is attracting further interest from the pharmaceutical sector. In some locations this activity is being focused around science or innovation parks that are being created to act as the hubs for the research and development sector, promoting collaboration between companies and the academic sector”.

Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Zug are the focus of much international activity generally, having some of the strongest supporting transport and ex-pat infrastructures, the highest levels of existing and growing research and development and science parks, as well as the most established real estate markets. Other cantons such as Vaud, St Gallen and Schaffhausen are competing strongly for attention with well organised economic development agencies and advanced plans for expanding school, housing and commercial space to accommodate demand.

“While relocating any companys headquarters is not without its complications and there are many factors to weigh up, client interest in relocating to Switzerland has not been driven purely by tax considerations but also by a desire to create innovative working environments and to consolidate operations in a central European hub,” concluded Wilson.

About CB Richard Ellis
CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBG), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the worlds largest commercial real estate services firm (in terms of 2009 revenue). The Company has approximately 29,000 employees (excluding affiliates), and serves real estate owners, investors and occupiers through more than 300 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide. CB Richard Ellis offers strategic advice and execution for property sales and leasing; corporate services; property, facilities and project management; mortgage banking; appraisal and valuation; development services; investment management; and research and consulting. CB Richard Ellis has been named a BusinessWeek 50 “best in class” company for three years in a row. Please visit our website at

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