EU clears Novartis takeover of Alcon

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European competition regulators gave the go-ahead Monday for Novartis' 28-billion-dollar takeover of fellow Swiss pharmaceutical giant Alcon, provided it divest some products.

The European Commission approved the deal provided Novartis "divest several products in the ophthalmological pharmaceutical and consumer vision care areas" within Europe, Brussels regulators said in a statement.

Investigators called for the divestments after examining European markets and finding that some Novartis and Alcon products had high combined market shares, causing barriers to entry for other companies.

As a result, "Novartis offered to divest a number of businesses," the commission said.

Novartis said in January that its purchase of Alcon from Nestle would leave the companies with about 70 percent of the global vision care sector.

© 2010 AFP

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