Reports: Novartis chairman says $10-billion purchase possible, sources claim drugmaker out of Onyx bidding

Novartis Chairman Joerg Reinhardt said the company will undertake a review of its business, including units focused on vaccines and animal health, and suggested "I don't think a $10-billion acquisition is out of reach," Bloomberg reported Tuesday. The executive, who took over as chairman this month, said "we will also start next week to look at our portfolio based on strategic perspectives going forward."

Some investors are asking Reinhardt to divest parts of the company acquired by former chairman Daniel Vasella, including its stake in Roche, as well as certain less profitable divisions such as Novartis' vaccines unit. "Novartis is a diversified business. It will continue to be a diversified business," Reinhardt said, adding "on the other hand, I believe active portfolio management is part of the strategic management of the company." For further analysis, see ViewPoints: Management changes at Novartis to leave shareholders disappointed?, as well as ViewPoints: High-profile personnel changes at Novartis drive analyst speculation as CEO delivers consistent message.

In related news, Bloomberg also reported that according to a source familiar with the matter, Novartis is no longer bidding to acquire Onyx Pharmaceuticals, which solicited offers after rejecting a takeover attempt from Amgen. According to the source, Onyx's current valuation made the deal too expensive for Novartis. Eric Althoff and Lori Melancon, spokespeople for Novartis and Onyx, respectively, declined to comment on the speculation.

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