Alcon tops $28 billion market cap in decade's biggest Swiss stock deal

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss eyecare company Alcon made its debut on the SIX Swiss Exchange on Tuesday with a market capitalization of more than $25 billion after a shareholder spin-off from drugmaker Novartis, the Alpine nation’s biggest stock deal in a decade.

Alcon shares traded at 57.80 Swiss francs at 0800 GMT after opening at 55 Swiss francs per share, reaching a market cap of some 28 billion Swiss francs ($28.05 billion).

Novartis shares, which closed on Tuesday at 95 francs, fell to 85.50 francs. Investors got one Alcon share for each five Novartis shares they held.

Alcon, a $7.1 billion-per-year group which began as a Fort Worth, Texas, pharmacy in 1945, suffered flagging sales and profit before Novartis swapped out management in 2016 to help arrest the decline. Geneva-based Alcon now aims to strengthen its rank as the biggest ophthalmic surgery device maker and No. 2 maker of contact lenses and solutions behind Johnson & Johnson.

“We are poised to achieve sustainable growth and create long-term shareholder value as a standalone company,” Alcon Chief Executive David Endicott said.

Giving Alcon to shareholders helps cap Novartis’s years-long retreat from being a broad healthcare company, as Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan focuses on prescription drugs and specialized, costly treatments like gene therapy.

“We continue to reimagine ourselves as a leading medicines company powered by breakthrough medicines, data science and advanced therapy platforms,” Narasimhan said in a statement.

Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill and Michael Shields