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ALCON FOCUSING ON ITS OPHTHALMIC DRUG BUSINESS WITH SALE

Executive Summary

ALCON FOCUSING ON ITS OPHTHALMIC DRUG BUSINESS WITH SALE of the company's contact lens business to Ciba-Geigy. In an April 14 press release announcing the proposed sale, Ciba-Geigy explained that "new opportunities for growth in Alcon's core businesses have led Alcon to this divestiture decision." In addition to ophthalmic medicines, Alcon's prime product line includes surgical products for ophthalmology and contact lens care solutions. Alcon's contact lens care products in the U.S. are not included in the sale. Ciba-Geigy noted that contact lens care products "will continue to be a core business for Alcon." Alcon's most recent ophthalmic Rx addition in the U.S. is the beta blocker Betoptic (betaxolol), approved for treatment of glaucoma last August. Alcon, a subsidiary of Nestle, made a major effort to expand its contact lens business in 1984 via a bid for CooperVision. That deal, however, was nixed by the Federal Trade Commission due to antitrust concerns. Ciba-Geigy's agreement in principle with Alcon is also subject to government approval. The acquisition will be Ciba-Geigy's second contact lens purchase in nine months. Last summer the firm bought American Optical's $33 mil. contact lens business. The value of the Alcon deal was not disclosed. Alcon operations included in the sale are Medicornea, in France; Scanlens AB, of Sweden; Scanlens APS, Denmark; Alcon Optic U.S., in Van Nuys, California; and Central Canada Contact Lens, based in Toronto. Ciba-Geigy also will receive "smaller" operations in Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, "as well as some of Alcon's contact lens care solutions assets in Munich, Germany," Ciba-Geigy said. Ciba-Geigy already has a foot in the European lens and lens care market via the 1983 acquisition of West German lens mfr. Titmus Eurocon.
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