Alcon directors lambaste Novartis offer

Alcon's independent director committee has spoken--and it's not impressed. Not with Novartis' offer to buy out the eye-care company's minority shareholders, not by the financial analysis the Swiss drugmaker used to support that offering price, and not with the "coercive tactics deployed by Novartis," which it calls offensive and disrespectful.

The board committee's position isn't a big surprise. The eye-care company's directors cried foul almost as soon as Novartis said it wanted to buy out all Alcon's shares, not just the remainder of Nestle's stake in the company. And shareholders have already started protesting in court, decrying their $151-per-share offer that's far below the $180 Novartis is paying Nestle.

The wording of the committee's formal response to that buyout proposal--"coercive tactics," "fundamentally flawed," "grossly inadequate," "profound disrespect"--sounds like a parental lecture. But will this we're-disappointed lecture hit home with Novartis? Already, analysts have been speculating that Novartis will have to up its bid for those minority-owned shares. The committee's response might force the issue--or, conversely, could solidify Novartis' current position for pride's sake. Novartis might choose to go ahead and force the lower price on those minority shareholders, as some think it's allowed to do under Swiss law. For now, only CEO Daniel Vasella & Co. know for sure.

- see the release from Alcon
- check out the story at MarketWatch