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Swiss Daybook: Novartis Charges, Nestle Bid, SNB 2011 Profit

Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Novartis AG plans to book a $900 million charge as it reassesses the sale potential of its Rasilez drug and said it will cut 1,960 jobs in the U.S. to prepare for the expiry of a patent on its Diovan medicine.

The restructuring will lead to a charge of $160 million in the first quarter and annual savings of $450 million by 2013, the Basel-based company said. The $900 million charge will be booked in the fourth quarter. Novartis said it’s also taking a $160 million charge in the fourth quarter to terminate programs on elinogrel and oral calcitonin.

EQUITIES: *Nestle SA and Danone SA made first-round bids for Pfizer Inc.’s baby-formula unit, putting two of Europe’s largest food companies in competition for the division, people with knowledge of the matter said *Petroplus’s corporate family rating was cut to Caa2 from Caa3 and its probability of default rating to Caa3 from Caa1 *Sulzer AG said it completed the acquisition of pump company Hidrotecar S.A. in Burgos, Spain *Dufry buys 51% of retail company at Russian airport *Cicor said it’s opening a sales company in the U.S. *Schaffner Holding expects fiscal first-half sales to be lower than the year-earlier period

ECONOMY/POLITICS: *Switzerland’s central bank returned to a profit last year as the valuation of gold holdings and foreign currency reserves helped bolster earnings. The profit was 13 billion francs Swiss francs ($13.8 billion), the Swiss National Bank said when publishing its initial estimate. In 2010, the SNB had reported a record loss of 19.2 billion francs.

WHAT TO WATCH: *Goldman Sachs Global Strategy Conference at 8 a.m. in Zurich

MARKETS: *The benchmark SMI gained 0.2 percent to 6,018.07 *The SPI increased 0.3 percent at 5,427.91 *The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.2 percent to 249.50 *The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose 0.8 percent by 7:41 a.m. Swiss time *Euro-franc traded at 1.2122 at 7:43 a.m. Zurich time

To contact the reporters on this story: Klaus Wille in Zurich at kwille@bloomberg.net; Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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