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COUNTRY REPORTSWITZERLAND Acclimatising to


shifting markets


Switzerland is home to some of the world’s most prominent logistics organisations. However, structural changes have forced swathes of the country’s heavy manufacturing business to move overseas. The logistics industry has had to adapt in order to continue to deliver value to customers. David Kershawreports.


in a deal valued at approximately USD13.25 billion. At the time Patrick Kron, Alstom chairman and ceo, claimed that the deal with GE was a “win-win”, protecting the “interests of employees and customers in the energy businesses”. Alstom had significant business interests


O 130


in Switzerland, and was certainly the largest customer for project freight forwarders in the country. Since the acquisition, GE has suffered a


tumultuous few years, which has resulted in a decline in performance and profitability. In October 2018, the company said it would take a USD23 billion goodwill impairment charge related to the GE Power business. At the time of the Alstom deal, GE


targeted some USD3 billion in cost synergies and strong returns. GE said that the combination would have an immediate influence on a wide range of projects using both companies’ technologies. However, despite significant cutbacks to


staff, the GE Power business unit has fallen foul of a dramatic change in the power generation landscape. Demand for large, fossil-fuelled turbines has fallen


January/February 2019


The downturn of the gas and steam turbine business worldwide has had a huge impact on the project cargo business in Switzerland. – Ruedi Reisdorf, Fracht


ne of the key topics of discussion in the Swiss project logistics market is the health of General Electric (GE), which acquired Alstom’s energy activities in 2016


substantially, as renewable power generation technologies gather traction in international markets. Ruedi Reisdorf, managing director at


Basel-headquartered freight forwarder Fracht, said the downturn of the worldwide gas and steam turbine business has had a huge impact on the project cargo business in Switzerland. The challenges facing GE has


had a significant impact on all of its suppliers as well, he explained. While it is difficult to say what the


long-term impact of GE’s financial troubles


will be on the Swiss project logistics business, the vast majority of those interviewed were not optimistic. “GE’s takeover saved Alstom Power, but


for GE it was the worst moment to make this investment. The large-scale gas turbine business is almost dead presently,” said Reisdorf.


OEMs relocate A structural change in the Swiss economy has resulted in the majority of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) involved in the production of oversize project cargoes relocating overseas. High manufacturing costs and wages, plus a strong currency, mean it is barely viable to manufacture products in the country. Wind energy has been a central pillar of


Europe’s power generation landscape over the past 20 years. However, Switzerland is something of a laggard in this field: its geography lends itself better to large-scale hydropower developments, with approximately 556 units in operation around the country.


www.heavyliftpfi.com


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