Kaspar Villiger

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Kaspar Villiger
Member of the Swiss Federal Council
In office
1 February 1989 – 31 December 2003
Preceded byElisabeth Kopp
Succeeded byHans-Rudolf Merz
President of Switzerland
In office
1 January 1995 – 31 December 1995
Vice PresidentJean-Pascal Delamuraz
Preceded byOtto Stich
Succeeded byJean-Pascal Delamuraz
In office
1 January 2002 – 31 December 2002
Vice PresidentPascal Couchepin
Preceded byMoritz Leuenberger
Succeeded byPascal Couchepin
Minister of the Military
In office
1 February 1989 – 31 December 1995
Preceded byArnold Koller
Succeeded byAdolf Ogi
Minister of Finance
In office
1 January 1996 – 31 December 2003
Preceded byOtto Stich
Succeeded byHans-Rudolf Merz
4th Vice President of Switzerland
In office
1 January 2001 – 31 December 2001
PresidentMoritz Leuenberger
Preceded byMoritz Leuenberger
Succeeded byPascal Couchepin
Personal details
Born (1941-02-05) 5 February 1941 (age 83)
Pfeffikon, Lucerne, Switzerland
Political partyFree Democratic Party
Vera Preisig
(m. 1973)
Alma materETH Zurich
ProfessionMechanical engineer

Kaspar Villiger[1] (/flɪɡɛr/FEELIGER; born 5 February 1941) is a Swiss businessman, former tobacco manufacturer and politician. He served as a member of the Federal Council (Switzerland) since 1 February 1989 for The Liberals. Villiger served two terms as President of the Swiss Confederation in 1995 and again in 2002. He previously served on the Council of States (Switzerland) from 1987 to 1989 and on the National Council (Switzerland) from 1982 to 1987.[2]

Villiger was best known for his involvement into the Swissair bankruptcy in 2001, when he was among the members of the rescue plan task force, which ultimately failed.[3][4] Between 2009 and 2012, Villiger was appointed chairman of UBS.[5][6][7] He has also served on the board of directors at Nestlé,[8] Swiss Re[9] and Neue Zürcher Zeitung.[10] He currently is the chairman of the UBS Foundation of Economics in Society, which invested 100 million Swiss Francs in the Department of Economics at the University of Zürich.[11] He was a founding member of the Global Leadership Foundation in 2004.[12]

Early life and education[edit]

Villiger was born 5 February 1941 in Pfeffikon, Switzerland to Max and Dory (née Heiz) Villiger. He was the grandson of Jean Villiger (1860-1902),[13] who founded the tobacco manufacturing concern Villiger Sons in 1888. He has one elder brother, Heinrich (born 1930),[14] and sister Monika (born 1936).[15]

He was raised in Pfeffikon and completed his Matura in Aarau. He then studied Mechanical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich graduating in 1965.[16]


In 1966, he entered the family business, after the sudden death of his father Max Villiger (1897-1966) alongside his elder brother Heinrich Villiger, who was responsible for the German market and his sister Monika Villiger, who was export director. He integrated bicycle manufacturer Kalt in Buttisholz and developed it under the new Villiger name. Villiger was also the vice president of the Chamber of Commerce of Central Switzerland, several years a member on the board committee of the Association of Employers in Central Switzerland and vice president of the Argovian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

In 2004, he became member of the board of directors of Nestlé and Swiss Re. On 15 April 2009, he was elected Chairman of the Board of Swiss banking giant UBS, holding this post until 3 May 2012.[17] His successor was Axel A. Weber.


On 1 February 1989, he was elected to the Swiss Federal Council. He is affiliated to the Free Democratic Party (Liberals).

During his time in office he headed the following departments:

He was President of the Confederation twice, in 1995 and again in 2002.

In 1995 Kaspar Villiger apologized on occasion of an official visit by Dan Culler who was an internee in the Wauwilermoos internment camp during World War II. Dwight Mears, a U.S. Army officer, covered the apology in his 2012 PhD thesis on the American internees in Switzerland.[19][20][21][22]

In September 2003, he announced he was to resign on 31 December 2003.

Other activities[edit]

Kaspar Villiger is a Member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today's national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organization composed of former heads of government, senior governmental and international organization officials who work closely with Heads of Government on governance-related issues of concern to them.


  1. ^ "Kaspar Villiger in Muri b. Bern - Auskünfte". Moneyhouse (in German). Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  2. ^ "Ratsmitglied ansehen". www.parlament.ch. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  3. ^ Archives, L. A. Times (19 November 2001). "Swissair Rescue Plan Approved". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  4. ^ "Task force to devise emergency rescue plan for Swissair". SWI swissinfo.ch. 24 September 2001. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  5. ^ Bruppacher, Balz; Press, The Associated (4 March 2009). "UBS taps former Swiss president as new chairman". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  6. ^ "Kaspar Villiger tritt vorzeitig zurück". 20 Minuten (in German). 15 November 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  7. ^ "UBS Picks Former Swiss Finance Minister as Chairman". The New York Times. Bloomberg. 5 March 2009. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  8. ^ Tagesschau - Villiger ist Nestlé Verwaltungsrat - Play SRF (in German), retrieved 25 March 2023
  9. ^ uhg. "Kaspar Villiger wird Swiss-Re-Verwaltungsrat | NZZ". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in Swiss High German). Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  10. ^ admin (5 February 2004). "Kaspar Villiger soll wieder in NZZ-Verwaltungsrat". Werbewoche m&k (in German). Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  11. ^ "About". www.ubscenter.uzh.ch. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  12. ^ "Kaspar Villiger | Global Leadership Foundation". Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  13. ^ "Villiger". Casa del Puro. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  14. ^ "Official Magazine". Tobacco Business Magazine. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  15. ^ "New Villiger cigar celebrates key anniversary". moodiedavittreport.com. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  16. ^ "ETHistory - Kaspar Villiger". www.ethistory.ethz.ch. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  17. ^ Kaspar Villiger wird neuer UBS-Verwaltungsratspräsident, NZZ Online, 4 March 2009
  18. ^ EFD, Eidgenössisches Finanzdepartement. "Frühere Departmentsvorsteher/innen". www.efd.admin.ch. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  19. ^ Franz Kasperski (7 September 2015). "Abgeschossen von der neutralen Schweiz" (in German). Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen SRF. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  20. ^ "Forced Landing". climage.ch. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  21. ^ "Gedenkstein für Internierten-Straflager" (in German). Schweiz aktuell. 23 October 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  22. ^ Olivier Grivat (11 February 2013). "POW medal recognises US aviators' suffering". swissinfo. Retrieved 23 October 2015.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Switzerland
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Switzerland
Succeeded by