ARTICLE | Strategy

Prodigal returns

July 14, 2008 7:00 AM UTC

Novartis AG may not have surprised the market with its bid to acquire Speedel Holding Ltd., but the manner of the approach certainly caught the Swiss biotech’s board off guard. Alice Huxley, president and CEO, informed her fellow board members late last Wednesday that she and four other major private shareholders had sold their holdings to Novartis, increasing the pharma company’s stake to 61.4% from 9.7%.

Huxley, who also tendered her resignation, sold about 1.7 million shares, representing 21.5% of the voting rights. Fritz Gerber sold 879,000 shares (11.3%), Rolf Hanggi sold 666,000 shares (8.5%), Branco Weiss sold 490,010 shares (6.3%) and Henry Bodmer sold 326,000 shares (4.2%)...