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Novartis chairman says all options open for Sandoz unit - report

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FILE PHOTO: Logos of Swiss drugmaker Novartis and its divisions Sandoz and Alcon are seen at an office building in Rotkreuz
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis is keeping all options open for the future of its generics division Sandoz, its chairman said in an interview with Swiss TV channel TeleZüri to be broadcast on Tuesday.

Asked whether Novartis could merge Sandoz with either Israel's Teva or U.S.-based Viatris or divest it, Joerg Reinhardt said: "All options are open for us." He said listing Sandoz on the Swiss stock exchange, a merger or keeping the business were all possible.

"We said we'd look at that and make a decision within the next 12 months," he said.

Reinhardt said Novartis's innovative pharma business and the generics business had drifted further apart over the last years so it made sense to examine options now.

Novartis said last month it might divest Sandoz, as price pressures mount in the off-patent drug sector.

Asked how Novartis could use the proceeds from the sale of its Roche stake, Reinhardt said: "We prefer investing in our business rather than doing a share buyback. We'll decide that within the coming months."

Reinhardt didn't rule out acquisitions, saying it was important to see whether a possible target would strengthen Novartis's core business of oncology, cardiovascular and immunology.

"We'll examine, review and decide," he said.

(Reporting by Paul Arnold, writing by Silke Koltrowitz, editing by John Revill)

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