Novartis confirms Sandoz spin-off plans, sets Oct. 4 completion date
Published: Sep 05, 2023
By Tristan Manalac
To secure approval, the Swiss pharma group will hold an extraordinary general meeting set for Sept. 15. If given the go-ahead, Novartis expects to complete Sandoz’s spin-off “on or around” Oct. 4, the company said in Tuesday’s announcement.
Novartis is also planning to list Sandoz on the SIX Swiss Exchange, with an American Depository Receipt (ADR) program in the U.S., for which the pharma group will likewise need to secure regulatory approvals.
Novartis first launched a strategic review of its generics unit in October 2021, when it announced that it was exploring options for the business moving forward—including a potential sale. At the time, Sandoz was seeing better volume sales figures but was struggling with decreasing drug prices in the U.S., which is its largest market.
The review of Sandoz was part of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s effort to streamline Novartis’ operations, which included the spin-off of its eye business Alcon and a sweeping realignment that is meant to help the company save $1 billion in operating costs by 2024. Under this strategic initiative, Novartis combined its oncology and pharmaceuticals units creating its Innovative Medicines division.
The restructuring also saw the departure of top company officials, including former oncology head Susanne Schaffert, and thousands of layoffs.
In July 2022, Novartis floated the idea of spinning Sandoz out into its own separate entity and finalized these plans a month later. At the time, a company spokesperson told BioSpace that the spin-off “would enable both businesses to focus on maximizing value creation for their shareholders.” It would also allow Novartis to focus on its five core therapeutic areas and strengthen its technology platforms.
Novartis’ Board of Directors in July 2023 unanimously endorsed the spin-off of Sandoz as a separate business entity, and if its shareholders approve the separation, they will receive one Sandoz share for every five Novartis shares they own, or one Sandoz ADR for every five Novartis ADRs.
Also in Tuesday’s announcement, Novartis posted Sandoz’s financial performance for the first half of 2023. During this period, the generics and biosimilars business made $4.8 billion in net sales to third parties, representing an 8% jump at constant currencies. Volume was again the driving force behind this increase, contributing 12 percentage points to its growth and offsetting the negative impacts of pricing.
Novartis said Sandoz’s sales increase “was mainly driven by Europe, which benefited from strong volume growth driven by continued momentum from prior year launches, a strong cough and cold season and the Biosimilars business.” Looking ahead, Sandoz expects mid-single digit net sales growth for 2023 as well as for 2024 to 2028, according to Novartis.