Novartis’s Alcon Eye Care To Become Separate Business

It’s the latest move by new CEO Vasant Narasimhan to focus more on drug development.

Novartis plans to divest itself of Alcon Eye-Care, which could be valued at about $20 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports. Novartis purchased the eye care company 10 years ago for about $50 billion, but has been disappointed in its performance, though sales have picked up recently.

Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan said that “Alcon has returned to a position of strength and it is time to give the business more flexibility to pursue its own growth strategy.”

Novartis plans to keep the eye care unit’s ophthalmology pharmaceuticals business and that’s one of the reasons Alcon is expected to be valued lower than what Novartis originally paid for it. 

Narasimhan, a former McKinsey consultant, said Novartis needs to concentrate on using digital technology to innovate in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.