Novartis Consumer Health Reinforces Its Strategic Focus: Altus Joint Venture Dissolved

SUMMIT, N.J., March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of the company's strategy to divest of its non-core Health and Functional Food business, Novartis Consumer Health has reached an agreement with The Quaker Oats Company to dissolve the Altus Food Company, a joint venture formed in January of 2000. The divestiture of the Health and Functional Foods business further strengthens Novartis' strategic focus on healthcare with pharmaceuticals at the core. Recently, the Consumer Health Sector has been realigned into six global businesses: OTC (over-the-counter medicines), Infant & Baby (including Gerber), CIBA Vision, Animal Health, Medical Nutrition, and until divestment, Health and Functional Food.

Dr. Paul Choffat, CEO, Novartis Consumer Health commented, "This realignment will help Novartis increase customer focus, streamline the decision making process, and create entrepreneurial opportunities to stimulate further growth." With a move out of the Health and Functional Food sector, Choffat said, "Novartis no longer sees a fit in the new organization for the Altus Food Company." Novartis believes that the business objectives of these products, along with its other strong brands in Health and Functional Food would be better achieved in companies where there is a good strategic fit. Altus was created to develop and market consumer food products that are specifically formulated to provide functional health benefits beyond basic nutrition.

The Quaker Oats Company, which was recently acquired by PepsiCo Inc., and Novartis Consumer Health have ceased operations of Altus. The two companies are currently reviewing the most appropriate options for their "Take Heart"(TM) Brand, a line of cholesterol-lowering products. The relationship was terminated at the end of 2001 on amicable terms.

The foregoing press release contains forward-looking statements which can be identified by terminology such as "believe," "will," "further strengthen," "increase," "streamline," "create" or similar expressions. Such statements reflect the current views of the Company with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Many factors could cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performances or achievements that may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Some of those factors include uncertainty in our ability to identify the most appropriate buyer for the H&FF business, delays and uncertainty in normally found in comparable transactions, and other factors are discussed in the Company's Form 20F filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated or expected.

Novartis Consumer Health (NCH) manufactures, develops and markets a wide range of branded products, designed to restore, maintain or improve consumer and animal health. The NCH business includes OTC (over-the-counter medicines), Infant and Baby (including Gerber), CIBA Vision, Animal Health, and Medical Nutrition, and -- until divestment -- Health and Functional Food.

Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in healthcare with core businesses in pharmaceuticals, consumer health, generics, eye-care, and animal health. In 2001, the Group's businesses achieved sales of CHF 32.0 billion (USD 19.1 billion) and a net income of CHF 7.0 billion (USD 4.2 billion). The Group invested approximately CHF 4.2 billion (USD 2.5 billion) in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ about 71,000 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For further information please consult

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