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FB Roundup: Lego, Novartis, VW and Suzuki

Lego posts double-digit growth across all territories; Novartis launches copycat cancer drug at 15% discount; and VW and Suzuki settle four-year legal dispute

VW and Suzuki settle four-year legal dispute

An international court has ordered German carmaker Volkswagen to sell its 19.9% stake in Japan’s Suzuki Motor, bringing to a close a four-year dispute between the companies.

The two automakers had accused each other of breaching their 2009 partnership agreement, which was intended to provide Volkswagen with greater access to India and Suzuki with new technology.

Osamu Suzuki, the Japanese carmaker’s 85-year-old chairman, who married into the family and has led the company since 1978, said: “It used to feel like a small bone was stuck in the back of my throat. It is so refreshing now.”

Volkswagen, which recently ousted third-gen chairman Ferdinand Piech, the grandson of the founder, said the sale of the stake was likely to have a positive effect on its earnings and welcomed the “fact that there is now clarity” on the situation.

Suzuki was founded in 1909 by Michio Maruti Suzuki and has forecasted revenues of $25.5 billion for the current financial year. Volkswagen posted annual revenues of more than €200 billion ($223 billion) in 2014.

Lego posts double-digit growth across all territories

The world’s largest toymaker Lego has posted double digit growth across all territories for the first half of 2015 thanks to strong performance from its Star Wars, Jurassic World and Lego Technic product lines.

According to a company statement, Lego said its revenue increased 23% to 14.1 billion kroner ($2.1 billion) for the six months to 30 June.

The strongest performance was seen in Asia with growth in consumer sales of more than 35% for the first half of 2013.

Non-family CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said: “It is a very satisfactory result in view of general developments in the world toy market which has had a slow start to the year. Our data indicates that consumer sales of Lego products for the first half of 2013 grew 9% globally versus the same period a year ago”.

The Kristiansen family retains control of Lego and is in the third generation. Former chief executive Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, 67, stepped down from the company in 2004.

Novartis launches copycat cancer drug at 15% discount

Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis has launched a copycat version of a successful cancer drug in the US after a federal appeals court denied an injunction to block the product.

According to the Financial Times, the Swiss group launched its “biosimilar” version of Amgen’s Neupogen cancer drug on Thursday, adding that it could set a precedent for other firms looking to provide competition. 

Copycat versions of “biosimilars” have been available in Europe for more than a decade and are responsible for pushing down the high costs of these complex drugs. The move could add up to savings of $6 billion over the next 10 years, according to drug benefit manager Express Scripts.

Novartis, owned by Sandoz Family Foundation, is one of several large drug makers seeking to take advantage of growth in biosimilars. The firm had revenues of $57.9 billion in 2013.

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