Novartis is to exercise its option to buy an additional 52% stake in eye-care company Alcon from owners Nestlé for $180 per share, it has announced. The purchase will see Novartis owning 77 percent of Alcon. The Swiss drugmaker has also submitted a proposal to the Alcon Board to buy the remaining 23 percent, which would result in Alcon merging with and into Novartis under Swiss merger law. In this event, minority holders of publicly-held shares would receive 2.8 Novartis shares for each of Alcon's publicly-traded shares.
Novartis, which bought its first 25-percent stake in Alcon for $10.4 billion in July 2008, expects to make savings of around $200 million within three years from its current holding in Alcon, while further integration of the companies' ophthalmic businesses is mooted to save an extra $100 million. Alcon has been dedicated to the ophthalmic industry for 65 years, and is currently the world's leading eye care company, with sales of approximately $6.3 billion in 2008.