Novartis pursues digitalization through cooperation

Novartis does not intend to sell its stake in its local competitor Roche anytime soon, said chairman of the board Jörg Reinhardt. The company, which aims to achieve digitalization through cooperation, remains committed to Basel.

Jörg Reinhardt
Jörg Reinhardt is chairman of the board of directors of Novartis. (Bild: Novartis)

Jörg Reinhardt has high praise for Basel. “We are very satisfied at this point in time,” the chairman of the board of directors of Novartis said in an interview with the Handelszeitung. “The conditions are among the best in the world.”

But he warns against popular initiatives that could harm the city as a business location, such as the Responsible Business initiative, which he believes would lead to massive disadvantages for Swiss companies, “even if we support the idea behind it”.

Reinhardt defended the choice of Vas Narasimhan as the new CEO, saying he brings with him “courage, inspiration, high ethical standards”. However, there is no need for a turnaround, and the company will instead continue on its path. Reinhardt also sees no need to sell Novartis’ 33.3 per cent stake in Roche, calling it a “financial investment with a certain strategic element”.

Reinhardt also intends to maintain its generic-manufacturer subsidiary Sandoz, as it fits well with Novartis’ core business. “I believe that there are still synergies that we have yet to exhaust, especially when it comes to generics that are difficult to manufacture and biosimilars.” In contrast, Reinhardt does not want to commit to the eye care subsidiary Alcon and mentioned an update at the end of October.

Narasimhan’s statement that Novartis will focus more and more on digital tools in drug development, which can reduce development times, was confirmed by Reinhardt, and he revealed that Novartis is focusing in particular on cooperating with others to achieve this.

“When making a purchase, you always run the risk of buying a technology that will be outdated in a short period of time,” Reinhardt said. “We therefore prefer to cooperate with new companies that are state-of-the-art in this.”


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