Disclose 27, Focus piece 2: Report on the lodging and tourism industry

Disclose – PwC’s online magazine

«It takes people, digital technologies and trust to achieve top performance.»

Reading our latest issue of Disclose (disclose.pwc.ch/27/) you’re sure to get an adrenaline rush as we investigate a topic with particularly close connections to sport: high-performing organisations.

Focus piece 2 gives you an insight into the report on the lodging and tourism industry:

Despite the strong franc, Switzerland has been able to maintain its reputation as a top destination in recent years. But for how much longer? To satisfy the high expectations of their guests, tourism providers have to offer them a lot for their money. This calls for clearly positioned offerings and high-quality service. With well-trained staff, intelligent big data tools and smart cooperation, operators can provide people with authentic experiences and gain loyal customers and new market share in lucrative segments. To do this they need to aspire to perfection but at the same time be willing to accept that you can’t make every guest segment happy at the same time.

Read the full report here.

Contact

Nicolas Olivier Mayer
Partner, EMEA Industry Leader Lodging & Tourism, PwC Switzerland
nicolas.mayer@ch.pwc.com
Tel. +41 58 792 21 91

How did the Swiss real estate industry start into the year 2018?

PwC – Immospektive Q1/18

The strength of the Swiss economy gives hope for positive impacts to the real estate market, or at a minimum to the current problem sectors of office and retail. The supply on the housing market has continued to grow which has led to an increase in the forecast vacancy rates and a decrease in market rents. Furthermore, it is assumed that interest rates will rise moderately in the long run.

Read more and get up to speed with us

Contact

Kurt Ritz
Partner, Real Estate Advisory
+41 58 792 14 49
kurt.ritz@ch.pwc.com

Marie Seiler
Director, Real Estate Advisory
+41 58 792 56 69
marie.seiler@ch.pwc.com

Samuel Berner
Real Estate Advisory
+41 58 792 17 39
samuel.berner@ch.pwc.com

 

FINMA revises circular on video and online identification

On 18 March 2016, the Swiss Financial Supervisory Authority FINMA brought into force the circular 2016/7 “Video and online identification”. Since then, financial intermediaries have been able to identify new clients digitally, in addition to face-to-face meetings or the opening of a client relationship by correspondence.

In its media release of 13 February 2018, FINMA announced that due diligence obligations in the area of digital client on-boarding are being adapted to technological developments. The draft of the partially revised circular includes the following innovations in particular with regard to the digital identification of new clients:

Video identification

  • In order to ensure secure identification and make the use of counterfeit ID cards more difficult, financial intermediaries should now check at least three randomly selected optical security features of the ID documents (e. g. holograms, laser-tilt images, security thread, micro text, etc.);
  • The formal characteristics (e. g. layout, orthography, font, etc.) are to be compared with references from an identity card database;
  • The verification of the contracting party in the identity process using a one-time password (TAN) will no longer be required;
  • The identification process should now be allowed to continue even if there are indications of increased risks. However, the business relationship shall only be established after additional clarification and approval of a superior person/ management.

Online identification

  • Financial intermediaries should be encouraged to obtain a photograph from all relevant pages of the identification documents. Similar to video identification, the comparison with an ID card database should also be required for the online identification;
  • As an additional safety element, a liveness detection is required;
  • A money transfer from a bank in Switzerland shall no longer be a mandatory requirement. Under certain conditions, money transfers from banks in Liechtenstein or a member state of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) should also be sufficient.

FINMA holds a hearing until 28 March 2018. As soon as the revised circular will enter into force, financial intermediaries are required to adapt their video and online identification process within 6 months.

Contact Us

Günther Dobrauz
Partner
Leader PwC Legal Switzerland
+41 58 792 14 97
guenther.dobrauz@ch.pwc.com

Tina Balzli
Head Banking
Director
Legal FS Regulatory & Compliance Services
+41 58 792 15 54
tina.balzli@ch.pwc.com

Stephanie Kok
Manager
Legal FS Regulatory & Compliance Services
+41 58 792 48 94
stephanie.kok@ch.pwc.com

Mark A. Schrackmann
Assistant Manager
Legal FS Regulatory and Compliance Services
+41 58 792 25 60
mark.schrackmann@ch.pwc.com

Family business – Passing the torch and detecting intellectual property opportunities

Family Business - Receiving the torch and detecting IP opportunities
Capture your family business’ intellectual property to generate new opportunities.

As a broader term, intellectual property (‘IP’) comprises trademarks (brand protection), patents (invention protection) copyright (original work protection, e.g. literary and artistic work), designs (product appearance protection), confidential information and know-how. Regardless of their activities, family businesses always have one or more of the above IP rights. In particular, a family business’ brand is its most valuable asset. A brand is built up over the long term and conveys the core values of the family, becoming an integral part of the business, its success and its reputation. There are many examples of well-known family businesses with strong links between the families’ goodwill and their business’ brand. The families’ core purposes, identities, statements and principle business goals become the building blocks of theirbrand values.

Family business and brand heritage

In the context of the transfer of a family business to the next generation, intellectual property is a central matter. PwC’s IP Department has the expertise to assist the next generation in addressing challenges and strategic questions such as:

  • understanding the value of your family business’ IP and preserving the legacy
  • defining your family business brand identity and ensuring consumers’ perception of the family’s brand
  • defining IP ownership in the family by verifying ownership documentation
  • understanding each legal category of your business’ IP and analysing what can be done to maximise value with regards to each category
  • establishing ‘best practices’ on how to use the IP to create value for the family business
  • recognising new business opportunities and different applications of the IP by remaining open to and thriving on innovation
  • looking at the changing environment as a challenge rather than a threat

Interested?

Are you in the phase of passing the torch? Are you interested in discovering what opportunities IP can offer?

Take the first step on your transmission journey with PwC and contact Natscha Tsalas for more information.

Natascha Tsalas, IP Legal Services Geneva
+41 58 792 98 32 / natascha.tsalas@ch.pwc.com

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Successful Transactions with PwC

12/02/2018

PwC unterstützte die Aletsch Riederalp Bahnen AG („ARBAG“), die Bettmeralp Bahnen AG („BAB“) und die Luftseilbahn Fiesch-Eggishorn AG („LFE“) bei der Fusion zur Aletsch Bahnen AG.

Zürich | Das Aletsch-Gebiet rund um den Aletschgletscher („Aletsch-Arena“) als Teil des UNESCO Weltnaturerbes ist eine bedeutsame Tourismusdestination in der Schweiz.

Dank der Fusion entsteht nach den Zermatt Bergbahnen das zweitgrösste Bergbahnunternehmen im Oberwallis mit einem beachtlichen Potenzial. Die Aletsch Bahnen AG dürfte künftig einen Umsatz von rund 40 Millionen Franken und einen Cashflow von über 10 Millionen Franken generieren. Dies bedeutet einiges an Schubkraft für allfällige Ersatz- oder Neuinvestitionen und der Gast wird zukünftig ein noch kompletteres Tourismusangebot vorfinden können. Im Winter verfügt das Skigebiet über mehr als 100 Pistenkilometer, im Sommer umfasst das Angebot rund 150km Wanderwege und 100km Mountain-Bike Trails.

Durch die Fusion können wichtige Kosten- und Nutzenpotentiale erschlossen werden, wodurch die Aletsch Bahnen AG auch für zukünftige Herausforderungen in der Schweizerischen Tourismus- und Wintersportindustrie noch besser gewappnet sein wird.

Bereits Ende Oktober 2017 haben die Aktionäre der drei Gesellschaften mit sehr deutlichen Voten von 90.85% (BAB), 96% (LFE) und 94.43% (ARBAG) dem Fusionsvorhaben zugestimmt. Der Umtausch der Aktien soll nun bis im Frühjahr 2018 abgeschlossen sein.

 

Das PwC Team

M&A Lead Advisory: Kurt Ritz (Partner), Marco Tremonte (Director), Andreas X. Müller (Senior Consultant), Fabrice Vuilliomenet (Senior Consultant)

Valuation & Financial Modelling: Marc Schmidli (Partner), Thomas Schneller (Director), Sara Ammann (Manager), Yannick Costa (Senior Consultant)

Rechtsberatung: Benjamin Fehr (Partner), Laura Fertitta (Senior Manager)

Steuerberatung: Lukas Scheidegger (Partner), Frédéric Zloczower (Senior Manager), Amadé Ruppen (Manager)

PK-Beratung: Markus Schneeberger (Director), Roger Ehrensberger (Senior Manager)

Wirtschaftsprüfung: Peter Held (Director)

 

Pressemitteilung –“Fusion zur Aletsch Bahnen AG geschafft”

Disclose 27, Focus piece 1: High-Performing Teams

Disclose – PwC’s online magazine

«It takes people, digital technologies and trust to achieve top performance.»

Reading our latest issue of Disclose (disclose.pwc.ch/27/) you’re sure to get an adrenaline rush as we investigate a topic with particularly close connections to sport: high-performing organisations.

Focus piece 1 gives you an insight into the topic High-Performing Teams:

High-Performing Teams: Teams bring out the best in everyone

If you want to make the pace you have to set yourself high standards and give your very best performance. Many business leaders wonder if it’s possible to achieve this with their current crew. We believe it is. There’s more to a good team than the abilities of its individual members. By building trust, bringing people closer together, introducing and promoting a healthy culture of debate, and ensuring that everyone clearly recognises the common objective and the contribution they can make towards it, you can exploit this potential – and harness the power of high-performing teams for the benefit of your business.

Read more about the topic High-Performing Teams.

Contact

Charles Donkor
Partner, People and Organisation, PwC Schweiz
charles.donkor@ch.pwc.com
Tel. +41 58 792 45 54

Successful Transactions with PwC

07/02/2018

PwC Corporate Finance advises Thommen-Furler AG (“TFAG”) on the acquisition of alcosuisse ag (“alcosuisse”) from the Swiss government.

Zurich | On January 31, 2018, the Federal Council decided to sell alcosuisse ag, the former profit centre of the Swiss Alcohol Board and sole importer of ethanol products, to TFAG. PwC acted as lead advisor to TFAG throughout the buy-side process.

With the sale to TFAG, the Swiss government completes another important stage of the partial revision of the Alcohol Act, which started on January 1, 2017 by the transformation of alcosuisse from a profit centre to a limited company. The transaction is expected to be completed in mid-2018. Until the next stage in the revision process of the Act – the liberalisation of the ethanol market on January 1, 2019 – the monopoly for the importation of ethanol will remain unchanged and the buyer is not allowed to generate any profit until then.

For more than 100 years, alcosuisse has been providing the Swiss economy with high-quality ethanol products in over 50 different grades at cost-covering prices. With processing facilities in Delémont (JU) and Schachen (LU) and c. 38 FTEs, alcosuisse supplies over 1’500 Swiss-based customers with ethanol products.

TFAG, headquartered in Rüti bei Büren (BE), is specialised in the distribution of chemicals and lubricants, environmental technology, and the disposal and recycling of industrial and hazardous waste. With c. 250 employees, the medium-sized company generates revenues in excess of CHF 120 Mio. and operates branches in Ziefen (BL) and La-Chaux-de-Fonds (NE).

The PwC team

M&A Lead Advisory
Sascha Beer, Partner
Marco Tremonte, Director, Engagement Leader
Andreas X. Müller, Senior Consultant

Financial Due Diligence
Nico Psarras, Partner
Patrick Amstutz, Director
Vincent Lüscher, Manager
Daniel Lötscher, Consultant

Tax Due Diligence
Marcel Angehrn, Director

Pension Due Diligence
Roger Ehrensberger, Senior Manager
Andreas Schuler, Consultant

EU and the OECD considering TRACE / withholding tax simplification

On 30 January 2018, the European Commission held a public session to discuss the code of conduct issued by the Commission in late 2017 regarding increasing the efficiency of withholding tax (“WHT”) procedures. The code of conduct contains a list of measures for E.U. Member States to consider in terms of simplifying WHT procedures as regarding cross border income such as dividends, interest, and royalties. The code is a non-binding document which allows for voluntary commitment by E.U. Member States.

The measures considered includes, inter alia, (1) increased digitalization of WHT procedures, (2) provisions of refunds in a short period, and (3) relief at source. The tax relief at source suggestion includes the use of “authorized information agents and withholding agents” to facilitate the verification of entitlement to treaty relief, provision of pooled withholding tax rate information, and reporting of relevant information.

Such a tax relief at source solution resembles the OECD’s Treaty Relief and Compliance Enhancement (“TRACE”) project which started in 2009. TRACE envisages the use of Authorised Intermediaries to facilitate a more efficient and simpler application of treaty relief on cross border investments in a similar manner to the U.S. Qualified Intermediary regime. Although TRACE has not been implemented in any country as of yet, we understand that it may be reactivated soon especially given the work done at European Commission level in terms of the WHT topic.

Please refer to the following link for access to the European Commission Code of Conduct.

Contact

Bruno Hollenstein
Partner, Operational Tax
+41 58 792 43 72
bruno.hollenstein@ch.pwc.com

EMEA Webcast: EMEA ITS US Tax Reform Series – Practical Guidance for European Multinationals – Episode 4: State tax implications of federal tax reform

State tax implications of federal tax reform

Wednesday, 7 February 2018, 4.00 – 5.00 pm CET

While US tax reform is focused on measures at federal level, it will lead to a diverse and wide-ranging number of state tax implications as a result of how/whether states conform to the federal Internal Revenue Code provisions. There are accordingly a number of critical elements that have the potential to significantly affect state tax and financial statements, such as deemed repatriation toll charge; interest expense limitations; and the international provisions discussed on our previous calls, namely BEAT, GILTI and FDII.

Episode 4 of our webcast series will therefore look in more detail at the state tax implications, with particular focus on the international measures and the tax accounting implications.

We will be joined by our state tax and tax accounting specialists in order to provide an overview of the key areas you should be considering.

Please follow the link below to register for episode 4 and note that recordings will be available if you register and you cannot join the live session itself.

To register for Episode 4: Click Here

In case you were not able to join our previous episodes and would like to view the recording, find hereafter the required links (you will need to register to watch the recording):

Contact Us

Richard Brunt
Tel.+41 58 792 81 82
richard.brunt@ch.pwc.com

Grasiele Teixeira Neves
Tel.+41 58 792 98 25
grasiele.neves@ch.pwc.com

OECD Publishes Public Comments on Mandatory Disclosure Model

On 18 January 2018, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) published the public comments on the discussion draft on Mandatory Disclosure Rules for Addressing OECD Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) avoidance arrangements and offshore structures (“Discussion Draft”). The OECD had published the Discussion Draft on 11 December 2017, requesting comments from interested parties and stakeholders by 15 January 2018. The Discussion Draft outlined a proposed model requiring mandatory disclosure rules, which ultimately intends to target promoters and service providers with a material involvement in the design, marketing or implementation of CRS avoidance arrangements and opaque offshore structures.

The public comments on the Discussion Draft came from numerous sources, including all of the Big 4 firm networks. In terms of input from Swiss sources, the Swiss Banking Association, Swiss Association of Asset Managers, Association of Swiss Private Banks, and the Swiss Insurance Association all provided comments to the OECD. The general feedback highlights the potential practical difficulties in the application of the model, mainly due to retrospective application of rules and definitions that are too broad at present for practical application. As a next step, the OECD will take these comments into account and present a report on the topic to the G7 Finance Ministers in mid-2018.

Please refer to the link for access to the public comments on the OECD’s Discussion Draft.

Contact

Bruno Hollenstein
Partner, Operational Tax
+41 58 792 43 72
bruno.hollenstein@ch.pwc.com