Swiss stocks - Factors to watch on March 21

ZURICH, March 21 Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:10am EDT

ZURICH, March 21 (Reuters) - Swiss stocks were expected to open slightly higher on Friday as positive U.S. economic data offsets concerns about Federal Reserve policy.

The Swiss blue-chip SMI was seen opening up 19 points at 8,274 points, according to the Swiss futures index .

The following are some of the main factors expected to affect Swiss stocks on Friday:

NESTLE

Swiss food giant Nestle and diversified German healthcare group Fresenius are among the four groups that have shown interest in buying the Medical Nutrition unit of France's Danone, daily Les Echos said on Thursday.

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CREDIT SUISSE

Credit Suisse Group AG has hired senior banker Frank Napolitano from RBC Capital Markets to lead its global power and renewables practice, according to an internal memo reviewed by Reuters.

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GUNVOR

Swiss-based oil trading firm Gunvor said on Thursday it was assessing the impact of the U.S. Treasury Department's decision to include the company's Russian shareholder Gennady Timchenko on a sanctions list.

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COMPANY STATEMENTS

* Novartis has started enrolling patients for a new head-to-head Phase III study of its experimental drug secukinumab also known as AIN457 versus Janssen-Cilag's Stelara in moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.

* Richemont said its general counsel Albert Kaufmann will retire from the group's management committee at the end of March. Nicolas Bos, CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels and Daniel Riedo, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre will both join the management committee on April, 1. Separately, the company said Franco Cologni would not stand for re-election to its board at the company's next annual general meeting.

* Interroll said incoming orders rose by 5.4 percent to 319 million Swiss francs last year, as it posted a 6 percent increase in net profit to 20.5 million francs.

* Bachem said sales rose 8.5 percent last year to 171 million francs and generated a 32 percent jump in operating profit to 29.5 million francs, as cost savings and a focus on its core business paid off.

* Kuehne & Nagel said Thorsten Meincke, formerly a sales and marketing executive with the transporter but most recently part of management at another forwarding company, will return from June 1 as senior vice president of sea freight.

* Valiant proposes Barbara Artmann as new board member to replace Hans-Joerg Bertschi.

ECONOMY