Alcon has a vision for its future, and Fort Worth is a focal point of it.
The company that specializes in eye care and surgical products and was founded in Fort Worth in 1945, will be spun off from parent company Novartis into its own publicly-traded company, officials recently announced.
Only a few details of how the new company will operate have been released, but David Endicott, who took the helm as Alcon chief executive officer July 1, pledged this week to maintain a strong North Texas presence.
About 4,500 people work at Alcon's Fort Worth headquarters on the south end of the city, near the Interstate 35W/I-20 interchange.
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Alcon is a world-renowned company in several areas of medical care product manufacturing. The company is known for liquid products such as contact lens solutions and artificial tears. Alcon also manufactures medical devices, particularly those used in eye surgeries such as procedures for treatment of cataracts, as well as laser eye surgery.
"Fort Worth is where Alcon was born more than 70 years ago, and we look forward to building on our legacy here following the proposed spinoff," Endicott said in a statement provided to the Star-Telegram. "We are proud of all we do to support the city, from being one of the city's largest employers to supporting a wide range of local charitable, educational and civic organizations. As a stand-alone company, Alcon will be a strong partner with Fort Worth and the surrounding community."
Alcon is consistently ranked among the top 12 employers in Tarrant County, according to data from the Fort Worth Chamber.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price visited Alcon's campus on Monday and met with Endicott to talk about the company's and the city's joint interests, officials said.
Late last year, the city published an Economic Development Strategic Plan that among others things called for the city to do a better job attracting high-paying jobs in tech-oriented and creative fields. Alcon, which does a large amount of its research and development in Fort Worth, is an example of a company that has promoted those kinds of jobs for decades.
The Fort Worth Chamber and city economic development staff members asked Alcon for feedback on the company's future plans in Fort Worth, but haven't had detailed conversations, economic development director Robert Sturns said.
"My guess is things will continue as they were," he said. "They have been a long-standing entity in Fort Worth and we hope that relationship continues."
Alcon also has been known for the manufacture of prescription drugs, particularly for eye conditions, although that part of its business was recently separated into a different part of Novartis' operations.
Novartis, a multinational pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland, will seek shareholder approval of the spinoff in February, and if approved the transition would be completed by the middle of next year, company officials said.
The new Alcon would be incorporated in Switzerland, "with Fort Worth continuing to be a key location," according to the release.
The company would be listed on both the Swiss Exchange and New York Stock Exchange.
Alcon was founded in 1945 by Fort Worth pharmacists Robert Alexander and William Conner. Their company created products to treat conditions such as itchy eyes, and developed the eye drop dispensing bottle that is commonly used today.
Alcon went public in 1971 and was traded on the NYSE. The company later was acquired by Nestle.
Novartis bought Alcon in 2011.