Novartis CEO says Alcon minority offer ‘fair’-paper

* CEO says intent on obtaining 100 pct of Alcon-paper

* CEO expects lower drug price in future-paper

* CEO sees margin staying near current level

*

ZURICH, July 17 (BestGrowthStock) – The chief executive of Novartis
AG (NOVN.VX: ) is intent on gaining full control of Alcon (ACL.N: )
and believes the Swiss drugmaker’s offer to minority
shareholders is fair, he said in a newspaper interview on
Saturday.

Novartis, which bought 25 percent of the U.S. eye group in
2008, exercised an option to buy another 52 percent
from Nestle (NESN.VX: ). The Swiss drugmaker is now seeking to
snap up the remaining 23 percent in a stock offer that is
significantly below the average paid to Nestle for each Alcon
share. [ID:nLDE6661RT]

“We think our offer, which is 10-12 percent above the
uninfluenced Alcon share price, as fair, not only for the Alcon
shareholders but also for the Novartis shareholders,” the paper
Finanz und Wirtschaft quoted Jimenez, who took over as CEO this
year, as saying.

When asked whether he would be satisfied with only a 77
percent stake, Jimenez said: “We remain intent on taking over
100 percent of Alcon.”

Alcon’s independent director committee has set up a $50
million litigation trust to ensure the minority shareholders get
the best deal.

“I’m disappointed by this move,” Jimenez told Finanz und
Wirtschaft. “I’m of the opinion that independent boards should
act in the interest of the entire business.”

MAINTAINING MARGINS

Novartis, the maker of high blood pressure drug Diovan, last
week raised its full-year sales goal on the back of strong
demand for its newest products, shrugging off drug price cuts
across Europe. [ID:nLDE66D1N9]

Jimenez said he expected the prices of medicines to be lower
in the future, in part due to rigorous savings measures taken by
governments in Europe and elsewhere.

Even though patents for drugs like Diovan, Zometa and other
may expire in coming years, Jimenez said he was keen to maintain
or even raise margins.

“Thanks to our new products and the well-filled pipeline I’m
optimistic. The margin may vary a bit, but I don’t expect big
departures from today’s level,” he said.

The Swiss franc climbed to record highs against the euro in
recent months (EURCHF=: ), pressuring some Swiss exporters.

“For the year we see that, if the exchange rate remains the
same, the currency developments will have a slightly negative
effect,” Jimenez said. “The recovery of the currencies in
emerging markets has partly offset the euro’s weakness.”

(Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Novartis CEO says Alcon minority offer ‘fair’-paper