Novartis scouts bolt-on deals of up to $3B

Novartis is scouting around for bolt-on deals. CEO Joe Jimenez (photo) says the Swiss company would spend up to $3 billion on consumer health and veterinary medicine acquisitions to beef up its businesses in those areas, Bloomberg reports. Novartis would also snap up assets in generics, biotech or diagnostics.

"We do expect to make bolt-on acquisitions to these five platforms, and we could do that today," Jimenez told the news service. "And when I say bolt-on, I mean anything from $1 billion to $3 billion."

Like its Big Pharma rivals, Novartis is shopping for buys to help offset the impending loss of patent protection on some big-selling drugs--in this case, the blood pressure drug Diovan and the cancer remedy Gleevec. It has been working to diversify its stable of businesses, expanding into eye care with its purchase of Alcon, and building up in generics, consumer health and emerging markets.

As Bloomberg notes, Novartis recently hired Johnson & Johnson veteran Naomi Kelman to bolster its over-the-counter drugs business, which ranks seventh in the field with an estimated $3 billion in sales. Jimenez says he'd look "very hard" at any consumer brands that become available. Sandoz, its generics unit, would do well to snap up generics of difficult-to-make meds, such as injectable cancer treatments, he says.

- read the Bloomberg news