Novartis chief stands firm on Alcon bid

Novartis isn't budging in its fight to buy 100 percent of Alcon's shares. This, after some public saber-rattling on the part of Alcon's independent director committee, which calls the Novartis bid inadequate. That committee has not only been casting about for legal hurdles to trip up the Swiss drugmaker, but also has set aside $50 million in a litigation trust to take their fight to court if necessary.

CEO Joe Jiminez (photo) tells the newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft that the company's bid to buy out Alcon's minority shareholders is just fine the way it is. "We think our offer, which is 10-12 percent above the uninfluenced Alcon share price, is fair," Jiminez says, as quoted by Reuters, "not only for the Alcon shareholders but also for the Novartis shareholders."

Novartis is in the process of buying Nestle's majority stake in the eye care company in a two-stage deal; when the second stage closes later this year, Novartis will have 77 percent of Alcon. But Novartis also wants the remaining 23 percent, held by a variety of shareholders--and it made an offer for those shares that's some 25 percent less than the price paid for Nestle's shares, hence the Alcon committee's chagrin.

Jiminez, for one, believes the committee's strategy is all wrong. "I'm of the opinion that independent boards should act in the interest of the entire business." 

- read the Reuters piece