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Novartis moves a step closer to Alcon buyout

Swiss drugs company Novartis is pushing on with its controversial buyout of Alcon after completing the acquisition of Nestlé stock in the United States eyecare group.

Novartis, which now has a 77 per cent stake in Alcon and a majority on its board, has been trying to buy the remaining 23 per cent in Alcon since exercising its option to buy the food group’s stake in January.

Alcon’s Independent Director Committee has dismissed the Novartis offer for the minority stake as low and repeated on Thursday it could take legal action to secure a better price.

Novartis is offering Alcon minority shareholders 2.8 Novartis shares for each Alcon share, an offer that is around 16 per cent lower than the average price of $168 (SFr173 ) it paid to Nestlé in an all-cash deal worth $38.7 billion.

Basel-based Novartis has said it has made a “full and fair” offer and that its bid must be fair to both Novartis and Alcon shareholders.

Nestlé acquired Alcon in 1977 for $280 million.

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