Novartis Said to Explore Delisting of $419 Million India Arm

Novartis AG, the world’s biggest drugmaker by sales, is exploring a delisting of its Indian unit, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Swiss pharmaceutical company is considering buying all the shares it doesn’t already own in Novartis India Ltd., which has a market value of about $419 million, according to the people. Novartis executives met investment banks in recent weeks to discuss the procedures if it decides to pursue the delisting, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Novartis India markets prescription and over-the-counter medicines in the country. Its best-selling brand last month was the Galvus Met diabetes medication, according to data from Mumbai-based market research firm AIOCD Pharmasofttech AWACS Pvt.

Shares of Novartis India jumped 16 percent Thursday to close at the highest level in more than three years, after earlier rising as much as 20 percent. Deliberations are at an early stage, and there’s no assurance Novartis will go ahead with the delisting, the people said.

A deal would allow Novartis to save on regulatory costs associated with the listing, according to the people. An average of about $382,580 of Novartis India shares changed hands daily over the past year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Novartis owns a 75 percent stake in the Indian unit, the maximum allowed under local regulations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

A representative for Novartis India referred queries to its Basel-based parent company. Dermot Doherty, a spokesman for Novartis, declined to comment.

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