Novartis CEO says nutrition business not core

novartis LONDON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Nutrition is not a core part of Novartis AG's (NOVN.VX) business and any sale depends on the emergence of keen buyers, the Swiss drugmaker's chief executive said on Tuesday.

"It depends on interested buyers popping up," Daniel Vasella told reporters in London before a research and development day for analysts.

Nestle (NESN.VX) was recently rumoured to be interested in acquiring the Novartis nutrition operations but Vasella declined to comment on specific potential buyers.

Vasella also reiterated that pharmaceutical margins would come under modest pressure next year, with the roll-out of three new products -- Galvus, Tekturna and Exforge -- requiring an increase of around 1,000 in the U.S. sales force, from about 4,000 to 5,000 currently.

© Reuters 2006

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