The company's capital requirement (share capital) must amount to at least CHF 100,000 (Art. 621–622, Swiss Code of Obligations). It must be at least 20% paid-up (discharged), but at a minimum of CHF 50,000 (Art. 632 Swiss Code of Obligations). This share capital does not necessarily need to be paid in cash. It can be paid in the form of benefits in kind (e.g. real property, machines, etc.).
On creation of a limited company, the founder or founders must open a deposit account with a banking institution. This should be a bank account in which the share capital of the company being formed is deposited pending registration on the trade register. A declaration of deposit is submitted in exchange for the payment of the funds, which remain frozen in the deposit account until the creation of the company is published in the trade register. In order to open a deposit account with a banking institution, you need to send a certified copy of the identification of the person signing the application, or a certified signature of the applicant.
After the creation of the company is published in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce, the funds are paid into the company's current account and the deposit account is closed. The transfer is made at the earliest on the first business day after publication in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce. The settlement of the funds by the bank is completed on presentation of a certified extract of the trade register showing the company's registration.
Multiple shareholders can invest freely in the company's share capital. The shares can be bearer shares and/or registered shares. Their nominal value must be at least one centime.
Since 1 July 2015, holders of one or more bearer shares (or participation certificates) must register with the company within one month. For shares that were bought before the effective date of this regulation, the deadline is one year (as of July 2015). Moreover, they must indicate to the company in question who the beneficial owner of the investment is, if their investment amounts to more than one quarter of the share capital or votes. This disclosure obligation also binds holders of shares acquired before 1 July 2015. These persons must also inform the company of any changes.
The administrative and management bodies of the companies must keep an updated list of the reported holders of bearer shares, as well as a list of the beneficial owners.
In the case of registered shares, the share is registered in the name of the owner. Moreover, this person must be registered on the company's share register. Registered shares change ownership by virtue of the signature of the party selling the share (the “endorsement”) and registration on the company's share register.
The founders may also influence the SA by issuing shares carrying extended voting rights. These are shares held in the name of the founder, with a lower nominal value but a full voting right. This implies that a shareholder who holds 1,000 shares with nominal value of CHF 10 may have more voting rights at the General Meeting than 100 shareholders who each hold shares worth CHF 100, even though the same sum (CHF 10,000) has been paid out in each case.
The Board of Directors
The Board of Directors represents the company to third parties. Unless otherwise provided for in the articles of association or the regulations of the organization, each member of the Board of Directors has the power to represent the company.
The Board of Directors may, however, delegate the power of representation to one or more of its members (officers) or to third parties (directors). Since 1 July 2015, all limited companies must be represented by one person whose place of residence is Switzerland. This person must have access to the share register, the list of reported holders of bearer shares, and the list of beneficial owners.
The Board of Directors is the primary management and organizational body of the SA. According to the Swiss Code of Obligations, the Board of Directors itself manages the company, or delegates the management to a third party (which is generally the case). However, in accordance with the law, the Board of Directors has seven primary duties that may not be taken away from it, and that it may not transfer (Art. 716a, Swiss Code of Obligations).