US - The Massachusetts Bricklayers and Masons pension fund has confirmed it has filed a lawsuit against Novartis, Alcon and Nestle claiming a deal between the companies discriminated against minority Alcon shareholders.
The complaint was filed in a New York district court over Novartis' takeover of Alcon at the beginning of January.
Lawyers representing the pension fund and other minority investors are seeking to block the merger or recover damages if it goes through.
The lawsuit charges that Novartis paid more to Nestle for the 58% of Alcon stock it had an option to acquire, than to minority holders of Alcon's publicly-held shares, who accounted for more than a fifth of the eyecare firm's shareholder base.
Under the terms of the deal, Novartis paid Nestle US$28.1bn - $180 a share - to raise its stake in Alcon to 77%, having already bought a 25% stake in Alcon in 2008.
Novartis also sought to acquire the remaining 23% stake Nestle did not own. It proposed that these shareholders would receive 2.8 Novartis shares for each of Alcon's publicly-traded shares.
Based on the Novartis share price on December 30, 2009, each share would be valued at $153. Novartis and Nestle both declined to comment on the matter, while Alcon was not immediately available for comment.
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