Novartis eyes bolt-on deals in generics, vaccines

Now that it's done a $39.3 billion deal for Alcon, Novartis is joining the "no-megamerger" pharma fraternity. At the company's annual shareholders' meeting in Basel, Switzerland, new CEO Joe Jiminez said Novartis might scout for acquisitions to grow its business in certain areas, but another big-time deal just isn't in the cards.

"We may go for smaller, bolt-on acquisitions to help build scale in vaccines, generics and consumer health," Jiminez said (as quoted by Reuters), "but we will not go for one of the same size and scale as Alcon for the foreseeable future." Of course, growing those businesses carries on ex-chief--and current chairman--Daniel Vasella's diversify-away-from-prescription-drugs strategy, the same strategy that led to the big Alcon acquisition in the first place.

Meanwhile, also at the shareholders' meeting, a resolution giving investors a "say on pay" was approved. It will allow shareholders to vote on policies affecting executive compensation, but won't give them an opportunity to say yea or nay on individual pay packages.

Vasella said that pay policies will come up for a vote every time there's a proposed change, or at least every three years. And as you know, Vasella has come in for criticism in the past as one of the highest-paid executives in Switzerland. We'll have to wait and see how investors vote as time goes on.

- read the Reuters news
- check out the Wall Street Journal story