Swiss drugmakers Ciba-Geigy Ltd. and Sandoz Ltd. said they plan to combine as one mammoth drug-chemical empire in a $29.6 billion deal that could reshape the global pharmaceutical business.
The mega-merger announced last week was described by both companies as a marriage of equals into a new corporation called Novartis. It is by far the biggest ever in the drug industry and one of the biggest corporate transactions in history.
It would make the combined Ciba-Sandoz business No. 2, with its 4.4% share of the global market ranking just behind industry leader Glaxo-Wellcome of Britain-itself the product of a merger just last year.
The deal requires the approval of the companies' shareholders and government regulators.
The companies said Novartis would have total annual sales of about $22 billion, excluding certain Ciba chemical and dye operations that the companies plan to sell. Healthcare products would represent 59% of sales; agricultural chemicals and products, 27%; and nutrition products, 14%.
Sandoz is best known for drugs that suppress the immune system to ease kidney and other organ transplants, including its top seller, Sandimmune. It also makes the prescription cholesterol reducer Lescol as well as such nonprescription drugs as Ex-Lax laxatives, Tavist-D and Theraflu cold and flu medications. In 1994 it bought the Gerber line of baby foods.
Ciba's best-selling products include Ritalin for hyperactive children; Voltaren, a painkiller for arthritis; and a line of contact lenses and eye-care products. Its nonprescription medicines include Allerest allergy medicine, Acutrim diet pills, Maalox antacid and Doan's pills for back pain.