Novartis makes it official: Alcon is moving its HQ from Texas to Geneva ahead of a spinoff

Alcon is losing its Texas accent.

Vas Narasimhan

Novartis $NVS CEO Vas Narasimhan put out the word this morning that the Basel-based pharma giant is moving Alcon’s headquarters to Geneva — ahead of a planned spinoff and public listing next year.

After the move the big Novartis eye care division will have up to 700 people based in the tax-friendly Swiss canton, which already hosts a large regional group. And Alcon will make its current headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas a division of the company.

The restructuring at Alcon is designed to burnish the company’s attractiveness to investors, who will be asked to buy in on the stock. Former CEO Joe Jimenez had tried to talk up the value of a company Daniel Vasella paid $52 billion for in 2011. But after Alcon found itself in a downward trajectory that first had to be reversed ahead of a spinoff, analysts tend to assign a value of around $15 billion to $25 billion.

Getting Alcon off its back is a key part of Narasimhan’s plan to concentrate on new drug development, with an added vision of carving out a pharma future more reliant on cutting edge data and digital technologies. 

That message, though, has been badly scrambled by the US political scandal that erupted after it emerged that Novartis had paid Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, $1.2 million. But you can be sure that’s where Narasimhan will stay focused.

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