What: $39B acquisition
Summary: Novartis pledged $39 billion for the eye care company Alcon in a move to diversify its business operations. Novartis bought a 25 percent stake in Alcon and could purchase another 52 percent in 2010. CEO Daniel Vasella said the purchase was a good fit and that the eye care market is growing as the population ages. Additionally, he observed, there's a lack of pricing pressure on eye products. While insurers and the government are twisting drugmakers' arms for discounts, consumers usually pay out of pocket for the kind of eye-care products Alcon sells.