Bloomberg News

Jordan Poised to Win Swiss Government Backing as SNB President

April 17, 2012

Thomas Jordan, interim chairman of the Swiss National Bank (SNB). Photographer: Gianluca Colla/Bloomberg

Thomas Jordan, interim chairman of the Swiss National Bank (SNB). Photographer: Gianluca Colla/Bloomberg

The Swiss government may appoint Thomas Jordan as president of the central bank as soon as today, filling the post left vacant by Philipp Hildebrand and taking up his role as the franc’s defender-in-chief, lawmakers said.

The government plans to discuss the appointment at its weekly meeting, which begins at 9:00 a.m. in Bern. Jordan will be named as head of the Swiss National Bank at the meeting, NZZ am Sonntag reported on April 15. Swiss President Eveline Widmer- Schlumpf said last month that Jordan is “clearly a leading candidate” for the SNB’s top job.

“It’s all but certain that Jordan is going to be the next president,” Christophe Darbellay, head of the Christian Democratic Party, a member of the country’s ruling coalition, said by telephone. “He is a renowned academic, he knows the central bank through and through and is globally well connected.”

The central bank imposed a cap of 1.20 francs per euro on Sept. 6, the first ceiling in more than three decades, in a bid to force a “substantial and sustained weakening” of the currency. The SNB indicated it would defend the franc by buying foreign currency in “unlimited quantities.”

Traders recently began for the first time in seven months to test the SNB’s determination to defend the limit as the euro area’s resurgent debt crisis drove up demand for safer assets. The franc breached the cap on April 5 and April 9, and options show investors are predicting even more appreciation.

Swiss Assets

Demand for Swiss assets is so strong that investors accepted negative yields at an auction of six-month government bills last week as Spain’s borrowing costs rose toward levels that prompted bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Jordan, 49, became interim chairman on Jan. 9, the day Hildebrand stepped down under a cloud created by his wife’s purchase of $504,000 in August, weeks before the cap was introduced. His two-year term was the shortest in the bank’s history.

The government will publish its decision today, a Swiss official said on condition of anonymity.

The two remaining spots on the board will be filled by Jean-Pierre Danthine, currently a governing board member, and Fritz Zurbruegg, head of the Federal Finance Administration, NZZ am Sonntag said.

Jordan was born in 1963 in Biel, Switzerland, and studied economics and business at the University of Bern. The father of two joined the SNB in 1997 and became head of its research unit in 2002. In 2004, he was appointed a deputy member of the SNB’s six-person enlarged governing board before joining the three- member directorate in 2007. When Hildebrand became president in 2010, Jordan was elected vice chairman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Klaus Wille in Zurich at kwille@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net


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