March 5, 2018 / 8:46 AM / in 4 months

Swiss central bank earned 2.02 billion Swiss francs from negative rates in 2017

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland’s central bank earned 2.02 billion Swiss francs ($2.16 billion) from negative interest rates it charges commercial banks during 2017, it said on Monday, as one of its deputy governors announced he was leaving.

Swiss National Bank (SNB) alternate Member of the Governing Board Thomas Wiedmer (R) arrives with SNB Vice-Chairman Fritz Zurbruegg during a presentation of the new 20 Swiss Franc note in Bern, Switzerland May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Alternate governing board member Thomas Wiedmer will quit at the end of June to take a new job, the Swiss National Bank said in a separate statement.

Wiedmer, an economist who previously worked at Swiss Re and has been with the SNB since 2000, had been deputy to SNB Vice Chairman Fritz Zurbruegg in the department overseeing financial stability, cash controlling and risk management.

As one of three deputy governors, Wiedmer joined in the discussions on monetary policy although the final decision is made by governing board members Thomas Jordan, Zurbruegg and Andrea Maechler.

The SNB, which is due to give its next monetary policy update on March 15, did not say where Wiedmer was going.

On Monday the SNB also published annual earnings and disclosed that the negative rates used to keep the Swiss franc’s valuation in check contributed to the biggest profit in the bank’s 110-year history.

The SNB confirmed full-year profit increased to 54.4 billion francs, more than double the 24.5 billion a year earlier, most of which came from its vast foreign currency positions. It reported a provisional profit figure in January.

The bank’s foreign currency investments expanded to 760 billion francs at the end of January, and are mostly made up of government bonds although 21 percent of its holdings are held in stocks including Apple Inc and Starbucks.

Making a profit is not an objective of the SNB, whose main mandate is to ensure price stability in Switzerland. The profit means the bank will be able to make an additional payment of 1 billion francs to the Swiss government and the country’s 26 cantons on top of the usual 1 billion francs payment.

Its dividend will remain at 15 francs, the legal maximum.

($1 = 0.9364 Swiss francs)

Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Toby Chopra

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