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Novartis could refuel M&A machine with $14 billion Roche stake sale

Novartis (NOVN.S) is discussing options with banks for selling its near $14 billion stake in rival Roche (ROG.S), potentially providing cash for new deals, though a sale is not imminent, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Novartis built up its one-third stake in Roche’s voting stock (RO.S) between 2001 and 2003 under former chairman and CEO Daniel Vasella, as a basis for a possible merger that never happened.

Ever since Vasella’s departure in 2013 there has been speculation Novartis would sell its holding, equivalent to around 6 percent of all Roche shares, ending a years-long standoff between the two Swiss rivals.