There's nothing like a 21-month lead-in to make an acquisition rather anticlimactic, even if the total price reached nearly $50 billion -- halfway between the size of Merck's
Novartis decided it would act first and announced today that it'll pay $28.1 billion for Nestle's additional 52% stake. Nestle may use the proceeds to enter a bidding war with Kraft
Speaking of sweet deals, Novartis seems to be trying to get one from Alcon's current shareholders. The company is offering minority shareholders 2.8 shares of Novartis for every share of Alcon they own. Do the math based on the last closing price for Novartis, and that works out to less than $153 per share -- less than what Alcon closed at and well below the $180 that Novartis is paying Nestle for the shares. Without much leverage, the minority shareholders may be forced to take what they can get.
Even if Novartis isn't able to wrangle away the remaining shares so cheaply, the deal should work out for the company. It'll inherit a solid selection of eye-care products -- both prescription and over-the-counter, such as contact lens solution. The latter follows in the footsteps of sanofi-aventis'
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