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Novartis to take over Alcon eye-care co.

Novartis has announced plans to buy the remaining 77 per cent stake in eye-care company Alcon, paying $38.5bn

Novartis has announced plans to take over eye-care company Alcon, paying $38.5bn for the 77 per cent stake it does not already own.

The company said it will complete its pre-agreed purchase of Nestle SA's 52 per cent stake before carrying out an all-shares merger with Alcon that will give it control of the remaining 23 per cent stake held by minority shareholders.

Basel-based Novartis already owned 25 per cent of Alcon when it agreed in April 2008 to pay Nestle $28bn to acquire its majority stake.

"This is the right time to simplify Alcon's ownership to eliminate uncertainties for employees and shareholders," said Novartis chairman and chief executive, Daniel Vasella.

"It will also allow us to strengthen innovation power by combining R&D efforts and grow our global market presence thanks to our complementary product portfolios," he added.

Alcon is based in Huenenberg, Switzerland, and has its US headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. The company employs some 15,000 people worldwide and specialises in surgical equipment and devices, contacts lens solutions and other consumer eye-care products. It posted a net profit of $515m, or $1.71 per share, in the third quarter. The proposed merger requires regulatory approval.

Alcon said a committee composed of its three independent board members has engaged financial and legal counsel to evaluate the proposed merger.

"Based on the Novartis share price and US dollar/Swiss franc exchange rates prior to the announcement, this would value each publicly traded share of Alcon at approximately $153," Alcon said. This is considerably less than the $180 per share Novartis is paying Nestle.

4th January 2010

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