Bearer shares will be abolished on 1 November 2019

On 21 June 2019, Parliament adopted the new Federal Act on the Implementation of Recommendations of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (German only).

At its meeting on 27 September 2019, the Federal Council already decided to bring the Implementation Act into force on 1 November 2019 (see the media release of 27 September 2019) and in the meantime, the deadline for initiating a referendum has also expired.

Bearer shares will therefore be abolished on 1 November 2019. This means that companies will no longer be able to issue bearer shares from that date and that issued bearer shares must be converted into registered shares by 30 April 2021 at the latest. An exception exists only for companies whose equity securities are listed on a stock exchange or whose bearer shares are structured as intermediated securities and deposited with a custodian designated by the company in Switzerland or entered in the main register.

Companies should take the necessary preparatory measures as soon as possible and adapt their internal processes accordingly.

New definition of beneficial owner

If a shareholder is a company, it must observe the new definition of beneficial owner in future reports. If such a person does not exist, the shareholder must submit a negative report.