Swiss stocks - Factors to watch on Jan 9

ZURICH Thu Jan 9, 2014 2:05am EST

ZURICH Jan 9 (Reuters) - Swiss stocks were expected to open steady on Thursday, in line with European markets, as investors are seen staying on the sidelines before policy meetings that could provide hints about future actions by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

The Swiss blue-chip SMI was seen opening unchanged, according to premarket indications from bank Julius Baer .

The following are some of the main factors expected to affect Swiss stocks on Thursday.

NOVARTIS

* Novartis AG is in talks with Merck & Co Inc to exchange its animal-health and human vaccines businesses for the drugmaker's over-the-counter health-products unit, Bloomberg reported, quoting people familiar with the matter.

* Japan's health ministry filed a criminal complaint against Novartis AG's local unit on Thursday after the pharmaceuticals company promoted its best-selling blood pressure drug Diovan using manipulated data.

* U.S. states have sued Novartis over accusations the Swiss drugmaker paid kickbacks to a New York pharmacy company to promote its Exjade drug to treat excessive iron in the blood, the New York Attorney General said.

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JULIUS BAER

U.S. prosecutors are accusing Swiss bank Julius Baer of helping more than 400 Americans hide undeclared money from the taxman, according to a ruling made public by a Swiss court on Wednesday.

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COMPANY STATEMENTS

* Lonza and venture capital investment firm Index Ventures, LLP, said they signed an exclusive five-year agreement for process development and cGMP production for all biological products in the portfolio of companies where Index is the major investor.

* Evolva Holding SA has appointed BNY Mellon, the global leader in investment management and investment services, to set up a Level-1 American Depositary Receipt (ADR) programme.

* Myriad doubles Latin American MSNGR chat subscribers in Q4 2013 to 38 million.

ECONOMY