The Swiss pharma giant said it intends to hold on to Alcon’s $4.6 billion ophthalmic pharmaceuticals business under the Novartis Innovative Medicines umbrella, continuing a transition begun in January 2016. If consummated as expected during the first half of 2019, the separation of the remaining the surgical and vision care business would create a $7 billion enterprise with more than 20,000 employees, Novartis said.
Alcon CEO Mike Ball, tapped in 2016 to lead a turnaround, was named chairman-designate effective July 1, reporting to Novartis CEO Dr. Vas Narasimhan. Alcon COO David Endicott was tapped for Alcon’s chief executive spot, also effective July 1.
“This promises to be the beginning of an exciting new chapter for everyone associated with Alcon. The planned spinoff will be key to strengthening our leadership in the large, attractive and growing global eye care devices market. As chairman-designate, I look forward to working closely with David Endicott and the entire team at Alcon to deliver continued innovation for our customers and patients, while creating shareholder value through long-term, sustainable growth,” Ball said in prepared remarks.
“We continue to execute our strategy to focus Novartis as a leading medicines company. Alcon has returned to a position of strength and it is time to give the business more flexibility to pursue its own growth strategy as the world’s leading eye care devices company,” Narasimhan added.
Novartis also said it plans to use the proceeds from the sale of its stake in a consumer health joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) to fund a $5 billion stock buyback, expected to be complete by the end of next year.
“The share buyback is fully aligned with our strategic capital allocation priorities, reflects our strict financial discipline and our confidence in future top line growth and margin expansion,” Narasimhan said.