Novartis eyes Alcon

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Novartis eyes Alcon

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Swiss drugmaker Novartis is moving to take full control of US based Alcon, the world’s biggest eye care firm.

The purchase is to help Novartis diversify away from prescription drugs.

Novartis already owns a quarter of Alcon’s stock, which it bought from the food group Nestle in 2008.

Now it plans to exercise an option to buy Nestle’s remaining 52 percent of shares – for cash.

Minority shareholders, who have 23 percent of the stock, are being offered Novartis shares.

The total proposed price is 27 billion euros but analysts said Novartis will have to increase its current offer to those minority shareholders.

Alcon is the global leader in ophthalmic surgery products, particularly for cataract operations, and also produces medicines for eye diseases such as glaucoma as well as contact lens products.

Novartis will put it together with its own CIBA Vision contact lens business.

The Swiss firm said it does not expect big staff cuts as redundancies should be balanced by job creation.