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Interview: Novartis CEO says might sell animal health, OTC

ZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis might sell its non-strategic animal health and over-the-counter (OTC) businesses if it cannot turn them into businesses of global scale, Chief Executive Joe Jimenez told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

He said Novartis had three global businesses -- pharma, eyecare and generics -- it was focusing on, but was looking at options for its three subscale businesses, vaccines and diagnostics, over-the-counter and animal health.

"We looked very hard at the market growth rates and at Novartis's capabilities. These are good businesses, but we have to find a way to give them global scale," Jimenez said.

Asked whether Novartis might sell the animal health and OTC businesses, he said: "I wouldn't want to speculate on the outcome. Our objective is to determine what it would take to gain global scale. If that is not possible, (selling animal health and OTC) would be a potential outcome.

"But if it is possible, we would want to build them into businesses of global scale," he said.

Novartis said on Monday it was selling part of its diagnostics business, its blood transfusion diagnostics unit, to Spain-based Grifols for $1.675 billion.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz)