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Novartis says listing of Alcon eye care business expected on April 9

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ZURICH, March 22 (Reuters) - Shares in Alcon, the eye care business being spun-off by Novartis, are expected to start trading on April 9 on the Swiss market and the New York Stock Exchange, the Swiss pharmaceuticals company said on Friday.

"Alcon obtained approval for listing on SIX Swiss Exchange and New York Stock Exchange," Novartis said in a statement, adding that Alcon would enter the SMI, Switzerland's blue-chip stock index, on its first trading day.

Novartis said Alcon had secured debt financing of $3.5 billion, adding that Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS were advising Novartis on the transaction.

Under the distribution, each Novartis shareholder will receive one Alcon share for every five Novartis shares or American depositary receipts they hold at the close of business on April 8.

Alcon has said it plans to pay a dividend in 2020 and will focus on "bolt-on" acquisitions to help boost operating margins to the mid-20 percent range, from the high-teens now.

The business was bought from Nestle for $52 billion in 2011, as former Novartis Chairman Daniel Vasella sought to build the Swiss drug company into a European healthcare giant along the lines of U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson. But Alcon became a trouble spot for Novartis, which had to make massive investments to reverse falling sales and losses.

Novartis Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan decided to unload the business last year to focus on new drugs, not the surgical devices and contact lenses that Alcon makes. (Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and John Revill, Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)