*NEWS: Novartis Confirmation of Alcon Spinoff Happens to Coincide with OCTANe’s Ophthalmology Technology Summit. Alcon Says Will Keep Manufacturing and BD&L in OC.

Laurent Attias, SVP of corporate development strategy, Alcon

OCTANe’s annual 2018 Ophthalmology Technology Summit on June 29 coincided with the national news that Novartis will definitely spin off Alcon – with a presence in Lake Forest – to shareholders and buy back up to $5 billion in stock, according to news reports.

Novartis, a Swiss multinational pharma company, intends to re-focus on prescription drugs. Alcon, with U.S. HQ in Texas, primarily makes medical devices for eye surgery.

Talk of a spinoff was first bandied about by Novartis last year.

Novartis is expected to keep its eye care pharma portfolio, which it moved from Alcon into its main pharma unit, according to news reports. This portfolio has annual revenue of about $4.6 billion.

Once the rest of Alcon has been spun off and distributed among investors, Alcon – with $7 billion in annual sales – is expected to have HQ in Switzerland, where it would be considered for the Swiss Market Index, according to news reports.

Novartis bought Alcon for approximately $52 billion in 2011.

Alcon SVP of Corporate Development Strategy, Laurent Attias, told OC Startups Now on Friday that all of its big medical devices, which have been manufactured in OC for decades, will continue to be made here.

“Whether it’s a microscope or diagnostic tools, technology in our pipeline is integrated here,” Attias said.

Business development and licensing will continue to carry on in OC as well, he added.

SoCal continues to offer access to some of the best engineers and scientists in the country, as they graduate from UC schools, USC and CalTech, OCTANe CEO Bill Carpou said. OCTANe is a life sciences and tech accelerator in Aliso Viejo.

Attias joined an esteemed group of ophthalmology execs at OCTANe’s fifth annual ophthalmology tech summit Friday in Newport Beach. At this summit, Carpou highlighted that OC has close to 560 medical device companies and employs more than 33,000 people. He said the OC region ranks No. 1 globally for medical device ecosystems within the ophthalmology field.

Alcon’s Presence in OC

Alcon opened its Irvine location at the Irvine Technology Center in 1990, a year after paying $325 million for the eye surgical unit of CooperVision Inc., which sold off most of its businesses in the late 1980s after lawsuits, a shareholder battle and insider trading charges against some of its executives, according to news reports.

In 2012, Alcon signed an 11-year lease for three buildings in the Serrano Creek office park in Lake Forest. It then moved 400 surgical research and development workers from Irvine to that facility in 2013, according to news reports.

Still looming over the company is a joint Department of Justice-Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into its business practices in Russia and Asia – both before and after Novartis bought Alcon from Nestle – according to news reports. Alcon went public in 2002.

Alcon competes with Allergan in the eye care pharma market and with J&J Vision in medical devices for eye surgery.

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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