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Wall Street welcomes Novartis

The life sciences group, Novartis, has begun trading on the New York stock exchange, in a move intended to attract United States investors and perhaps pave the way for a large acquisition.

Novartis, based in Basel, is one of several Swiss companies that are being attracted to the world's largest bourse. The UBS financial group announced Wednesday that it would be listed in New York from Tuesday next week.

The trading of Novartis shares will be by American Depositary Receipts, with 40 ADRs equalling one registered share in the group.

Explaining the ADR system, Novartis chief financial officer Raymond Breu says that if you want to be listed in the US, the share price should not be too high. "It should not exceed $100 because American investors are used to low prices," Breu says.

With the Novartis share trading in Switzerland at around SFr2,400, an ADR certificate would cost around $35.

"I am most pleased that our shares will now be easily accessible to US investors, and that the visibility of our company will increase in the US thanks to the listing of our shares on the NYSE," said Daniel Vassella, chairman and chief executive officer of Novartis.

"Novartis' listing on the NYSE underlines the company's presence, focus and commitment to the US customers and market," he added.

Vassella's enthusiasm is shared by the New York stock exchange chairman and chief executive officer Dick Grasso.

"Novartis' commitment to leading-edge discovery activities, coupled with creative, customer-focused marketing, distinguishes the company. Novartis is certain to be one of the most exciting and valued investment opportunities in our NYSE family," he said.

Other Swiss companies reported to be looking at the possibilities on offer in New York include the pharmaceutical company Ares-Serono, the Swatch Group, Credit Suisse and ABB.

swissinfo and agencies

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