Novartis continues to fatten up Alcon ahead of spinout

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Novartis is ensuring that Alcon gets the best start in life as an independent eyecare company, with yet another bolt-on acquisition. Today's beefing up involves the $285m takeout of Powervision, a privately held advanced intraocular lens company; in December Alcon added the dry eye specialist Tear Film for an undisclosed sum. Alongside these small additions to help grow sales, Novartis has been working on improving profitability at Alcon through an aggressive restructuring; last year the unit reported a 10% improvement in core operating income as sales rose 6% to $7.15bn. Alcon’s disengagement from the mothership is expected to happen in the second quarter of 2019, and the group is eyeing growth via the ageing Western population, increasing wealth levels in emerging economies and the rising prevalence of myopia and "digital eye strain" due to screen use. Independent Alcon is expected to be valued at $20-30bn, though those with longer memories will remember the $50bn plus that the former Novartis chairman Daniel Vasella originally shelled out for the company. Shareholders, who will receive one Alcon share for every five Novartis shares, will hope that the group does a better job at growing in value as a standalone.

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