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Novartis boss fuels Roche merger speculation

Daniel Vasella said pharmaceutical products made by Novartis and Roche would complement each other Keystone

The head of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, Daniel Vasella, has fuelled speculation about a possible merger with rival drug company, Roche.

This content was published on July 11, 2002 - 20:59

In an interview with the German business magazine, "WirtschaftsWoche", the chairman and chief executive of Novartis said there would be distinct advantages to both companies working together.

"Roche and Novartis together would without a doubt be a great company," Vasella commented.

"There would be many synergies, we would have much more clout in marketing and distribution, and we would also significantly reinforce our position in the United States," he added.

Merger rumours

Rumours of a possible merger have been lingering around Basel - the Swiss city which is home to both companies - since Novartis acquired a 21.3 per cent stake in rival Roche in May 2001.

Vasella said the range of pharmaceutical products offered by a single company would "complement each other".

Like Roche, most of the sales at Novartis come from prescription drugs, which account for more than 60 per cent of the company's revenue.

Despite the upbeat assessment of how the companies might work together, Vasella indicated that no discussions were currently underway between both sides.

"Unfortunately, Franz Humer, the head of Roche, has made it clear that he does not look favourably on such a fusion."

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