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Swiss central bank to pay shareholders 2b swiss francs for 2014

[ZURICH] Switzerland's central bank said on Friday it will pay out 2 billion Swiss francs (US$2.16 billion) to shareholders for last year but did not know yet whether it will pay out profits for 2015 after abandoning a cap on the franc against the euro.

The dividend is double what the Swiss National Bank had earlier this month told shareholders, which include the federal government and cantons, they could expect as a payout.

The central bank signalled that payouts for this year depend on how it fares after removing a cap on the franc two weeks ago, a policy shock which upended financial markets and caused the franc to surge.

"It cannot be determined at this stage whether a profit distribution for 2015 will be possible following the discontinuation of the minimum exchange rate for the Swiss franc against the euro," the SNB said in a statement.

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The SNB's profits have been a delicate subject politically since 2013's absence of payouts following a hefty loss on the value of its gold holdings.

Switzerland's foreign exchange reserves rose to a record high in December after the central bank stepped up intervention in the currency market, and it now holds more than 495 billion francs in foreign currency.


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