Novartis's focus on eyecare group deal finally pays off

Novartis AG has wrapped up its long-awaited buyout of the remainder of US-listed eyecare group Alcon Inc for $12.9bn (£8.3bn), after sweetening its original offer with cash.

The Swiss drugmaker is hoping the Alcon deal, worth some $52bn in total, will help it diversify and give it protection against patent losses on big-selling medicines such as blood pressure drug Diovan.

Novartis has been trying to clinch 100 per cent ownership of Alcon since the start of the year, but its original all-paper offer of 2.8 shares for each Alcon share met stiff resistance from Alcon's Independent Director Committee, which dismissed it as "grossly inadequate."

The merger consideration will now include up to 2.8 Novartis shares and will be topped up, if necessary, with cash to ensure Alcon shareholders receive $168 per share, the average price Novartis paid earlier this year for Nestle's 77 per cent stake. The Basel-based group said that if the value of 2.8 Novartis shares is more than $168, the number of Novartis shares will be reduced accordingly.

Novartis's move completes the final stage of a lengthy process to get full control of Alcon, known for its contact lens solutions but also the dominant player in the multibillion-dollar market for intra-ocular lenses, which are implanted in the eye to correct problems focussing.