Alcon worth up to $41b: Novartis chairman

ZURICH • The chairman of Swiss drugmaker Novartis expects Alcon to be valued at between US$20 billion and US$30 billion (S$41 billion) when the ophthalmic devices unit is spun off to shareholders next year, he said in an interview with Finanz und Wirtschaft.

"Just how much it's ultimately going to be will be determined when we know how debt and other things will be quantified," Mr Joerg Reinhardt told the Swiss financial newspaper.

Novartis announced last Friday that it is spinning off the eye-care surgical equipment and contact lens unit, with US$7 billion in annual revenue.

The business no longer fits the drugmaker's strategy of focusing on prescription medicine, Novartis concluded. The Basel-based company will also repurchase up to US$5 billion in shares until the end of next year.

Mr Reinhardt said it was hard to determine if Alcon, bought over time for US$52 billion from Nestle in a deal concluded in 2011, ever really earned money for Novartis.

"Tough to say, since Alcon had to be revamped multiple times," he said. "But I would say, all things considered, we didn't lose money on Alcon."

He also said there were no changes to Novartis' roughly US$13 billion stake in Roche. His company has, for now, abandoned active plans to unload the package, and Mr Reinhardt has returned to calling it "a financial investment with a certain strategic component".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2018, with the headline 'Alcon worth up to $41b: Novartis chairman'. Print Edition | Subscribe