Last week Novartis announced it was willing to spin off its Alcon unit to create a new independent business worth around $20bn. The idea was positively welcomed by the stock exchange, with shares rising 4%. However, to everyone’s astonishment, credit rating agency Moody’s yesterday downgraded Novartis’ bonds from A1 to A3. A1 rating was quite an exception for the pharmaceutical industry, and indeed most of Novartis’ competitors have lower ratings. For example, Pfizer e Sanofi were rated A3, whereas Bayer was given Baa1 because it went into debt to take over Monsanto. The top-rated company is American Johnson & Johnson with an Aaa rating, i.e. Moody’s highest rating.
(Source: Neue Zürcher Zeitung)