Novartis Exchanges Vaccine Business For GSK's Cancer Drug; Sells Animal Health Division To Eli Lilly In Major Overhaul

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Novartis
The logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is seen at its headquarters in Basel on Oct. 22, 2013.

Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) on Tuesday announced that it will acquire GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE:GSK) cancer-drug business for $14.5 billion and would sell most of its vaccine business to GSK for $7.1 billion plus royalties. At the same time, the Swiss company announced the sale of its animal health division to Eli Lilly and Co (NYSE:LLY) for nearly $5.4 billion.

Under the agreement, Novartis and British drug maker GSK will create a joint venture that combines the companies' consumer-oriented divisions to create a business that will sell medicines that do not require prescriptions. Novartis’ decision of selling its animal health division to Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly is expected to help the Basel, Switzerland-based company to focus on innovative pharmaceuticals, eye care and generics, the company said in a statement.

"(The transactions) improve our financial strength, and are expected to add to our growth rates and margins immediately," Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, said in a statement released Tuesday, adding: "Patients will benefit from even higher levels of innovation that this focus may afford."

Upon completion of the transaction between Novartis and GSK, the former will own 36.5 percent of the joint venture and four out of eleven seats on the new entity's board. Novartis will also have customary minority rights and exit rights at a pre-defined, market-based pricing mechanism, the statement said. The deal will make GSK the world's largest provider of vaccines with 20 more vaccines currently under development.

In February, Novartis acquired CoStim Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, to broaden its cancer immunotherapy research program, without disclosing the financial details of the transactions.

Eli Lilly said, in a separate statement, that Elanco, the company's animal health division would become the world's second-largest company in the segment in terms of global revenue, after its acquisition of Novartis’ business.

"Combining these two great companies will enable us to provide more diversified brands, reach more market segments, expand our global footprint, and strengthen our pipeline, capabilities and expertise,” Jeff Simmons, senior vice president of Eli Lilly and head of Elanco Animal Health, said in a company statement.

The transactions are expected to affect about 15,000 employees worldwide in all three companies but no jobs will be lost, Associated Press reported, citing Jimenez.

GSK's stock gained 1.16 percent on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, and was trading up 4.5 percent in pre-market trading Tuesday. Novartis stock gained 0.93 percent on Monday and was up more than 1 percent before markets opened Tuesday. Eli Lilly's stock, which rose 0.71 percent on Monday on the NYSE, was trading down more than 3 percent in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

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